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I work with many families in the area. One thing I have learned is that families, each with their own story and individual dynamic, experience difficult situations that can be very complicated.  It is never easy for a family when they are faced with end of life decisions, so with a little pre-planning a person will minimize the damage that can be done to their family during a very stressful time.


Designate a health care power of attorney and a power of attorney for your property.

Remember that it is perfectly fine to assign these titles before you are in need of them, as these documents do not give anyone legal authority to make decisions unless you are unable to make them for yourself. The result in a lack of planning may also cost your family a lot of time and money if they must go through the court system should a resolution not be reached. Assign a person you trust to follow through with your decisions.  


Include advance directives in your power of attorney paperwork.  
These directives outline your choices under specific circumstances. Write out all the details that are important to you. Also at this time, I recommend you think about your preferences on the home care agency you would prefer, the nursing home you would choose, and the funeral home you would want to help make your arrangements. Without preplanning, all of these details will create a decision for someone else in a more stressful time. There are resources available that will help you outline all of these types of details.    


Meet with your family to discuss all of the decisions you have made.  
Make sure they know the purpose of the meeting is to explain your choices and why you have made them. Be honest with your family; it is important for them to know this information to eliminate any surprises when the time actually comes for decisions to be made. Sharing your plan will give your family time to process the information and ask you questions if needed. It also helps families see that you made the decisions without outside influence. You may not be able to keep everyone happy but you can try and reduce stress and conflict by planning ahead.


Western Illinois Home Health Care is the first agency in the area to offer a Senior Care Management model to our clients. Senior Care Management services help seniors and their families work through these types of decisions by offering professional care management and education on resources available in your area. If you or someone you know is in need of these services, please call us at 1-800-228-5993.    


Amanda Powell, BSW is a Senior Care Manager for Western Illinois Home Health Care


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Addressing Advanced Directives and End of Life Decisions with Family

August 2014

by Amanda Powell