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End-of-Life Planning

Planning for your end-of-life is not something that needs to wait until you have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. That may be your starting point, however otherwise healthy people can die suddenly and unexpectedly, people are involved in industrial and traffic accidents, some people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and some are more vulnerable to the catastrophic outcomes of domestic violence or homicide.

Whether you die or end up in a situation where you are no longer considered competent to make decisions on your own behalf, having accessible well thought out unambiguous legally binding documentation in place ensures that decisions being made for you can align to your wishes, values and directions. These include:

  • Will
  • Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA)
  • Advance Care Directive (ACD)
  • Medical Decision Maker (MDM)
  • Medical Support Person (MSP)

A Will is a very important document to have in place to ensure that your estate is managed according to your wishes, and particularly for those with no dependents. An EPOA will be able to make financial, lifestyle and personal decisions on your behalf.

To record both your values and preferences for your medical treatment and to make binding decisions consenting to, or refusing medical treatment offered to you in the future, completing a ACD is essential. Developing a robust and nuanced ACD that reflects your values and instructions is not always straightforward. There is much to reflect on and consider, and very little may be black and white, especially regarding the use or not of various life-saving options e.g. cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), assisted ventilation, surgery, dialysis and so on.

There is also the matter of dementia, and what decisions you may wish to have made for you if you are in the advanced stages of dementia and deemed incompetent to make your own medical decisions.

Although appointing a MDM means that they may make such decisions for you in the absence of an ACD, that document can assist the person you nominate as your MDM to make decisions that they are confident align with your wishes, values and instructions. In some cases, the appointment of a MSP may also be useful.

Although I always recommend an open and honest discussion with your GP and/or regular medical specialist(s) to kickstart this process, I can support you with the preparation and completion of these documents. This includes completing a values report to inform your ACD, deciding who to appoint as your MDM, whether you would benefit from having a MSP, instructions on where to access easy to complete interactive forms, witnessing requirements (which vary), and how to store them and who to share them with.  

Are you or one of your loved ones going to die from a life-limiting diagnosis?

Elderly couple