As with many things in life, circumstances and new experiences change what we once knew to be true. For a long time people believed making end-of-life plans alleviates stress when the time comes. Covid has illustrated what the scientific community knows is constantly changing, that when an older (healthy) adult states in the health care directive that he or she doesn’t want CPR or mechanical ventilation, this statement may have been different had we been able to see into this future. Early in the pandemic in the spring/summer of 2020, medical staff hadn’t known the possibilities of Covid recovery; many believed the virus was universally fatal to seniors. The majority of older adults who had been treated survived – had these people issued an advanced care directive that was followed, perhaps the outcome would have been different.
Discussions now center around conversations with physicians and family about what a person wants as their medical condition develops. One thing that hasn’t changed – the medical community maintains having a trusted person to make decisions in the event we are not able, known as a power of attorney, is still critical. A health care surrogate, or proxy, to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated – someone who you trust to carry through your wishes during difficult times – has helped, even during this pandemic. Completing a health care power-of-attorney form will help to protect your wishes as well as alleviate the decision falling to your loved ones.