Everyone loves a story with a happy ending…
But there’s one part of life we each experience, yet many of us fail to plan for it the way we should. It’s that period leading up to our funerals. Chapters of our lives where we may be fighting a terminal illness or life-threatening injury. A phase of time that may be years or months – or mere weeks, days, or hours.
Weighing your options and making your wishes known before a crisis can make a huge difference – not only for your own peace of mind but also for your family’s confidence in following your decisions. The best time for advance care planning is when you’re under no pressure. You have the luxury of time thinking it through and talking it over with the people you love and trust.
So what’s your plan? Have you made one for how you want to be treated during life’s final chapter? Is it written down or recorded? Does your family, physician, or attorney have a copy? If not, we invite you to use the free tools we’ve provided below to start the conversation – and prepare now for a much better ending.Discuss Your Choices
When you start thinking about the last phase of life and how you would prefer to experience it, you realize there’s quite a lot to consider.
Where would you like to be during that period? Who do you want to spend time with? What things would you want to be sure to do if you’re able? To what degree would you want medical efforts to keep you alive, especially if your quality of life was diminished? If you’re unable to make decisions or communicate them, who do you want to make choices for you?
Not only should you think about these types of questions for yourself, but you should also know the preferences of those closest to you.
Use these Conversation Starter Cards to help guide you through this important discussion. Gather your family and ask one question at a time. Let each family member express their thoughts and wishes.
Instructions for how you want to be treated during the final phase of life are called “advance directives.” Writing your instructions down, signing them, and having two witnesses1 sign them can make this a legal document.
Below are a variety of brief forms you can use to document your wishes. Use one or more of the forms to best communicate the instructions that you want to have followed.
My Plan – Answer these six brief questions to let your loved ones and healthcare providers know your preferences for your end-of-life experience.
Texas Medical Power of Attorney – Designate someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions yourself or communicate them. This person will become your legal healthcare agent.
Living Will – This document is specifically for instructing your loved ones and healthcare providers about the medical treatment you want to receive if you are unable to communicate your wishes.
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order – This document is completed and signed by a physician at your request to prevent using cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for restarting your heart or breathing. NOTE: When printing, print as a two-sided document. The signed form must have the instructions on the reverse side.
You also can download a free copy of “The Gift” from Community Healthcare of Texas. “The Gift” is a tool to help you outline your personal information and wishes. It is designed to provide basic information to your family about your assets, liabilities, and personal desires when you cannot convey that information2. It also includes a detailed checklist for survivors after the death of a loved one. We can mail you a free copy of “The Gift”. Simply fill out the form at the bottom of this page to give us your mailing information.
What if you change your mind after any of these documents are written, signed, and witnessed? Fill out a new form, sign, and have them witnessed again. Tell your loved ones and healthcare agent about the changes and give your healthcare agent and physician the new form.
1Witnesses must be 18 years or older, not your designated healthcare agent, not your healthcare provider nor an employee of your healthcare provider, and not an employee of where you live. One witness also must NOT be related to you or not be in a position to benefit financially if you die.
2“The Gift” is not intended to replace or supersede a will or any other documents signed by you. However, each family member, Power of Attorney, Executor, Trustee, and Guardian can use the document in making any discretionary decisions for you and your family.
To receive a free copy of “The Gift” by mail please fill out the form below:
Once you’ve filled out your advance directives, be sure to share them with your loved ones, healthcare agent, physician, and attorney. Keep the signed original document(s) in a safe place accessible to others (for example, don’t put them in a private safe deposit box). Tell loved ones you trust where the originals are located.
NOTE: Be sure all important documents are sealed in plastic to protect them in case of flooding.
Make photocopies to give to your healthcare agent, physician, attorney, clergy, or others who may become involved in your healthcare.
Be aware that instructions to withhold life-sustaining treatments from a pregnant woman will not be honored under Texas law. Also, know that ambulance and hospital emergency department workers are required to perform CPR unless they are provided with a signed copy of a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.
After thinking about their wishes for an end-of-life experience, many family members often express some of the same desires:
- Don’t want to be in physical or emotional pain
- Do want to be in the comfort of their homes
- Don’t want to be alone
- Do want someone who will listen to them
- Do want to be told the truth about their condition and what to expect
- Don’t want to be a “burden” to their family, especially those taking care of them
- Do want to be treated with dignity
While they may not realize it when expressing these wishes, family members are actually describing perfectly the advantages that hospice care can provide.
Community Healthcare of Texas has been faithfully providing this type of care to families in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Waco areas since 1996. Our experienced team offers expert medical care and comfort to patients, insightful instruction to caregivers, plus emotional and spiritual support for the entire family.
What’s more, the range of outstanding services from Community Healthcare of Texas is typically covered in full by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. As the largest not-for-profit adult and pediatric hospice provider in Texas since 1996, we are committed to providing compassionate end-of-life care services to every patient and family who needs our support.
Call Community Healthcare of Texas in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at (800) 226-0373 or in the Waco area at (800) 625-9328 for more information on how we can support you and your family when faced with a serious or life-limiting illness.