You never know when a serious, potentially life-limiting condition could happen. Unexpected situations may occur at any time in life. It is never too early to start palliative care. In fact, palliative care can be received at the same time as other treatments for your condition and does not depend upon the course of your condition. In fact, palliative care occurs at the same time as all other treatments for your condition and does not depend upon the course of your condition.
Here is what you can do now, to get the medical care you want later:
- Understand that you can always ask to get palliative care
- Practice asking questions to those who provide your medical care
- Consider different health outcomes and possibilities
- Have caring conversations (ZIP) with your loved ones about your choices
- Regularly review and update your choices
When you put your choices in writing, this is known as an advance directive. Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to record your wishes and beliefs for anyone who may be involved in your care.
Common advance directives include:
- Living Will - Lists treatments you do and do not want. It also shares other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation
- Durable Medical Power of Attorney - Gives the person you name the power to make healthcare decisions for you, if you are unable to make them for yourself
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) - Separate from the other two, this comes from your doctor and requires healthcare professionals to not take lifesaving steps
Give copies of your advance directive to family, friends, doctors, and anyone else who may assist in your care; then keep the originals in a safe place.
Update advance directives when you:
- Receive a new diagnosis
- Have a change in your marital status
- Whenever your thoughts and wishes about care change