My dear friend Carol is very ill. She's been in the hospital in the intensive care until (ICU) for over two weeks, and though there are small signs of improvement in some areas, there are also setbacks in others. What is most frustrating for me is the inability to communicate with her. Although she is sometimes aware loved ones are with her, she's unable to participate in her care—unable to speak, write or let us know what she's thinking.
As is the case with many who end up in the ICU, she didn't have an advance directive, living will, Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form, medical power of attorney, do not resuscitate or other instrument that contains the voice of the patient.
As I concern myself about what Carol would want, I also think about what I would and wouldn't want under similar circumstances. I know I wouldn't want my husband and sister to have to "guess" my wishes.
- I would want them to have a starting place
- I would want them to know there is a plan I have thought about that provides a guideline for their decisions
- I would want to help make their choices as easy as possible
It's confusing though—does a person need to have all of the documents mentioned above? What's the difference between them? How are they used?