Documents and Care Planning

As you never know when you might need it, it’s important to start planning for potential long-term care needs early. Perhaps you may never need it, but there could be an unexpected accident, illness, or injury that can immediately change your needs and your situation. So it’s best to start thinking about long-term care before you actually need it.

There’s a lot that goes into long-term care planning, though, and you want to be able to make those decisions, or at least participate in making those decisions, while you’re physically and mentally able to do so. You’ll need to make:

  • Housing decisions
  • Health decisions
  • Legal decisions
  • Financial decisions

Along with all these decisions comes a plethora of documents, and it can sprove difficult to know just exactly the type of financial documents you might need. For legal decisions in particular, there are three types of documents (or advanced directives) that it’s recommended you create. They are:

  • Health care power of attorney
  • A living will
  • A DNR (or do-not-resuscitate order), if desired.

Now let’s take a look at each of these things in a little more depth.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney is also sometimes known as a durable power of attorney for health care. It is a legal document that will name the person you want to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do that for yourself. The health care “agent” or “proxy” is your substitute decision-maker. Whomever you choose should both understand and respect your values and beliefs about health care. You should also talk with the person to make sure he or she is comfortable with taking on the role before naming them.

Living Will

Also called a health care directive, the living will is a document that keeps track of your wishes for medical treatment near the end of life. It also clearly states what types of life-sustaining treatment you would or would not wish to receive if you are terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or going through the final stage of a fatal illness. For instance, the document can state whether or not you wish to receive artificial breathing if you can no longer breath on your own.

Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order

This order lets health care providers know not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other life-support procedures if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. The DNR order is signed by a health care provider and put in your medical chart. Both hospitals and long-term care facilities have DNR forms a staff member can help you fill out. However, you do not have to have a DNR order.

So there’s your quick look at a few of the necessary or optional documentation you may need to consider when thinking about your future and coming to the decision of what to do if you ever find yourself in need of receiving long term care.