Issues surrounding end-of-life medical decisions are seldom easy. However, planning for future healthcare needs, which includes end-of-life medical decision-making, is one of the most important acts elders can perform, both for themselves and their loved ones. Federal and state laws recognize an individual’s constitutional right to refuse medical treatment, and aim to ensure that a patient’s right to self-determination in healthcare decisions be communicated and protected. An advance medical directive is the document by which an individual makes his or her healthcare wishes known. Advance directives consist of two parts: a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. Unfortunately, only between 20% and 25% of Americans have executed advance medical directives.

I recently wrote an article entitled “Managing End-of-Life Issues” which was published in the November/December issue of Aging Well magazine. The article discusses end-of-life medical decision-making, advance medical directives and the need for a continuing dialogue among the patient, the family and the treating physician about treatment options and the patient’s wishes about end-of-life care.

My article on “Managing End-of-Life Issues” can be found here – Aging Well Magazine: November – December 2009