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COVID-19: A Lesson in the Importance of Advance Directives

The importance of advance directives

In this Covid-19 pandemic, a wrenching question demands an answer: if you or someone you love is taken down by a life-threatening illness, how far would you want extreme life-prolonging measures to be tried? In this context, we will discuss the importance of advance directives

Importance of Advance Directives vs. DNR Orders

For us who are particularly vulnerable – seniors, those with compromised immune systems, those already struggling with medical conditions – this question is particularly stark. Many people are familiar with DNR orders, “do not resuscitate.” These are intended for cardiac arrest. The threats posed by the current virus, though, more often implicate breathing problems. The longer time spent on a ventilator, the greater the chances of  permanent damage, disability or death .

Many are dying alone, without their loved ones present. The New York Times recently reported on a particularly heartbreaking case, which further underscores the extreme importance of advance directives.

Most people over sixty with a serious illness say they would prefer to be kept in comfort at the end, even if that care shortens life. But where to draw the line? How much time alive would you be willing to sacrifice, to decline aggressive treatment and possibly die sooner? The need to provide at least some answers is important not just for you. Clinicians and caregivers need guidance, too.

2017 study showed that approximately two-thirds of Americans had neglected to provide prior guidance by creating advance health-care directives like health care powers of attorney and living wills. Back then, most of us could not have imagined being in an epidemic like the one now.

Even if you or your loved ones understand the importance of advance directives and have already done the responsible thing by creating one, now is the time to review those documents to make sure they reflect what you want under current conditions.

Health-care providers are ethically obligated to do everything feasible to keep us alive. If we have no advance directives in place, the system will take over – and families can end up in long-lasting anguish for having had to be the ones to make the final call. Don’t let that happen. Think through the question for yourself and talk with a person whom you trust to make that decision for you if need be.

 

McDonald Law Firm is here to help.

If you’re in Howard County, Montgomery County or the District of Columbia, call McDonald Law Firm at (443) 741-1088 or (301) 941-7809 to schedule an appointment with experienced estate planning attorney Andre O. McDonald. While we hope to serve you by preparing your advance health-care directives, we sincerely hope that you and yours not need them for a good long while.

 

DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION POSTED ON THIS BLOG IS INTENDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT ENTENDED TO CONVEY LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE.

 

 

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For help with estate planning, special needs planning, elder law or Veteran's Pension Planning needs throughout Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore County; and Baltimore City, contact McDonald Law Firm, LLC.

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McDonald Law Firm, LLC

Columbia Office

10500 Little Patuxent Pkwy, #420
Columbia, MD 21044-3563

Bethesda Office:

(By Appointment Only)

7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 800 West
Bethesda, MD 20814

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