The subject of end-of-life wishes is tough for most of us to broach with our loved ones. Understandably, it’s a topic that families tend to avoid. Despite the challenges, it is critical for all of us, not just those facing a terminal disease, to plan ahead and organise our affairs.
Putting your affairs in order is thinking about your future and putting things in place so that your preferences are recognised and acted on if you are unable to express them yourself later in life. The act of planning ahead helps you get the care you want while also providing peace of mind for your loved ones, relatives, and friends.
What Happens if I Do Not Plan Ahead?
When our end-of-life wishes are not known or planned for, it could mean that:
- you get treatments and care that you do not want
- you miss out on treatments and care that you do want
- your loved ones must deal with complex legal issues, such as having to appoint somebody to manage your finances
- your loved ones are confused and stressed making decisions about your care
We discuss 4 important things to consider if you want to get your affairs in order and plan for your future end-of-life care.
1. Make a Will
According to a study from The University of Queensland, only 59 per cent of Australians have a will. The only way to ensure that your property is divided according to your preferences when you die is to write a valid will.
There is no legal obligation for a solicitor to create a will but doing so ensures that your will is lawful and reduces the chances of it being challenged. If you die without leaving a valid will, South Australian rules will decide how your property, or ‘estate,’ is split.
2. Prepare an Advance Care Directive
An Advance Care Directive empowers you to make clear legal arrangements for your future health care, end-of-life, preferred living arrangements and other personal matters. The Directive also allows you to appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers to make these decisions on your behalf.
An Advance Care Directive makes it easier for others to know what your wishes are when you are unable to make these decisions yourself. This could be because of a sudden accident, dementia, a sudden serious stroke or if you are unconscious or in a coma.
A short report prepared by Advance Care Planning Australia found that only 30 per cent of senior Australians had an Advance Care Directive in their health record.
3. Appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney
It is recommended that you consider appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney to make financial and legal choices on your behalf in the future.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a power of attorney that continues to operate even after you become legally incapacitated. You can appoint more than one person to make decisions jointly, separately or in some form of hierarchy. You can also choose if it comes into force as soon as you sign the document or only if you lose mental capacity.
Your Enduring Power of Attorney will be in charge of paying your bills, keeping track of your income, managing your investments, and handling real estate matters on your behalf. Therefore, it is vital that you choose someone that you know and trust.
4. Consider Where You Would Like to Be Looked After
It can be helpful to think about where you would like to be cared for if you become unwell. Your choice may not always be possible, but if your loved ones know your wishes, they can do their best to follow them as best they can.
You may prefer to be cared for at home through to the end of your life. Talk it over with your loved ones and find out what support could be available to help you at home. For example, Palliative Care South Australia can link you with appropriate supports while a trusted in-home care provider can deliver the services you need to remain at home for as long as possible.
While it can be tempting to avoid talking about death, it is important to remember that these conversations about what you want to happen when you die or if you are unable to make decisions for yourself in the future can save a lot of stress down the line.
If you need home care services now, book a consult with My Care Solution today. My Care Solution is a family-run provider of premium in-home aged care services in Adelaide and Victor Harbor.