About three-quarters of the people who die each year in the U.S. are 65 and older, making Medicare the largest insurer at the end of life. Have you ever heard the expression "the best time to plant an Oak Tree was 30 years ago" but the second-best time is today!
The same principle applies to end-of-life decisions. For example, if you were to take a stroke or be the victim of a bad motor vehicle accident and sustained irreversible injuries such as a brain injury, and you were unable to communicate your wishes "the routine" in hospitals if there is no written instructions, is to do "everything."
Everything means IV tubes, Intubation of tubes into your trachea to deliver oxygen to your body, ventilator machines and lots of pharmaceuticals and other tubes to keep everyone of your organs alive, even if your brain is not functioning or you are in a coma or are unresponsive to stimuli.
This scenario is very frightening for a spouse or an adult child trying to plan in this crisis while grieving at the same time. As a licensed nurse practitioner I make it part of my healthcare patient plan to counsel all my patients in a pro-active approach about an issue that really does not have to ever be stressful.
As a daughter of elderly parents, I know how difficult medical appointments are for Seniors. Healthcare providers come in all forms anymore and the training is very different. Today we have MD's, DO's, ND's, PA's NP's and many are excellent with elderly but far too many are terrible healthcare providers and one wonders why they ever went into medicine.
Medicare’s new policy “is a turning point in end-of-life care,” I am a strong proponent of the Medicare coverage for counseling and helping ensure advanced directives for all patients are easily accessible and updated frequently. I go so far as to give my patients a binder with their "Legal" Advanced Directive Document already printed out. If my patient is a person of faith we pray before we begin our task of exploring end-of-life care and seek wisdom. I have found with a caring and skilled healthcare counseling the care provided can be wonderfully aligned with the patients’ goals, values, morals and ethics. I make sure my patients are informed and their preferences are all documented correctly. Advanced Directives Documents require a Notary as well as a co-signer and everyone must be present at the Notary when the document is notarized. However, should your situation change, or your health gets worse or you change your mind, no worries because we can meet again and update your document.
If you would like to receive free Medicare Counseling Services discussing Advanced Directives for End-of-Life decisions please feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Carly Willeford. You can be sure you will leave empowered, relieved and stress-free knowing you are living your life exactingly the way you want it!
End-of-life counseling is nothing to be afraid of and it is simply just a typical topic brought up in any ethics college level course. Remember, when you work with a skilled healthcare provider you will stay well, and you should expect and plan to live a long healthy life.
Strokes, Heart Attacks and Traumatic vehicle accidents are all preventable episodes with the right strategies put in place to prevent the event from ever happening in the first place. But should something "beyond your control" happen you will now be prepared and that is a priceless "peace" of mind!
Looking forward to meeting you soon!
Dr. Carly Willeford
Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Masters of Science (M.S.)
Board Certified Nurse Practitioner (FNP
Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN)
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work/Counseling (BSW)
Asbury Theological Seminary Pastoral Counseling, Aging and Spirituality
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Welcome to my Medicare Blog for Seniors!