What happens if your mom is unable to speak for herself after a medical emergency. It's common to push off these tough decisions, but it's also important. If she hasn't designated a medical power of attorney, the state names someone to act on her behalf, and the decisions that are made may go against things she's talked about.
Who would your mom want to make important medical decisions for her? Most people choose a relative, such as an adult son or daughter. If you're the person your mom wants, could you make the decisions she desires? With an advance directive, you'd have a little guidance.
Types of Advance Directives
- A living will is a type of advance directive that only takes effect when a patient is unable to speak due to a terminal illness or vegetative state.
- A medical power of attorney is a document assigning someone to be a spokesperson for you in case you cannot speak for yourself.
- A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order bans medical professionals from using machines or techniques to restart your heart if it stops.
Things You Should Be Prepared to Answer
You should know that being a power of attorney doesn't mean you make the decisions on your own. You will have legal documents stating your parent's wishes for things like ventilators, feeding tubes, and IV fluids. Some states don't allow people holding a power of attorney to deny food or fluids, so you may or may not need to make that decision.
If your parent has a DNR order, you'll be the one to make sure it's followed. One other thing you should know is if your parent would want to donate any organs or tissues. You might also be responsible for making last-minute decisions on emergency surgeries that might help but also have a high failure rate.
As a medical power of attorney, you should know the basic health history. In an emergency situation, you may need to tell doctors if your parent has any metal pins and plates before they run an MRI. You should know allergies, too.
You've taken one step to help your mom protect her health and wishes when she ages. Now, think about the things she needs to live independently. Home care may be needed at some stage in her life.
Take time to discuss the services that are available. Involve a home care agency to get your mom's questions answered. When she decides she's ready for help, make the call and arrange caregiver services.