DON’T WAIT UNTIL OLDER
One basic thing to consider, Johnson noted, is whether one wishes to receive CPR.
When performed on young, otherwise healthy individuals, the emergency procedure can be life saving. But in older people with debilitating conditions, Johnson said, CPR is less effective and carries the risks of physical injury and loss of cognitive ability.
Individuals may also wish to limit the use of life-prolonging interventions, such as intubation, ventilation, artificial hydration and nutrition and antibiotics.
“People can talk to their primary-care physician or other health-care providers about these issues,” Johnson said.
Both he and McCabe urged people not to wait until they are older or critically ill to discuss and document their health-care wishes.
Sudden accidents and illnesses can leave even young, previously healthy individuals permanently or temporarily unable to express their treatment preferences.
“If you are over the age of 18, everyone should consider having a health-care proxy and a living will,” McCabe said.
Advance directives can be modified or changed whenever a person wishes, Johnson added.
High Peaks Hospice and Adirondack Health are hosting a free informational event about advance-care planning from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday in the main lobby of Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.
There, people will be on hand to answer questions, and advance-directive documents will be available to fill out.
The form that will be used at the event, McCabe said, is a combination of a health-care proxy and living will.
In addition, event staff will be available to provide pointers on how to discuss medical wishes with family members.
“It’s difficult for people to talk about life-threatening illness and the possibility of death,” McCabe said.
Email Ashleigh Livingston:firstname.lastname@example.org
TO LEARN MORE
For more information about advance directives, visit prepareforyourcare.org or caringinfo.org.