If you or a loved one is advancing in age, end-of-life planning may not be your first choice for how to spend your time and energy. However, having an end-of-life plan in place can give seniors and their families immense peace of mind for years to come.
According to senior living specialist and Community Relations Director Nancy Clanton from Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, a senior living community in Venice, FL, planning ahead is certainly the best option for senior adults. “Putting together a good end-of-life plan long before you need it can both ensure all your wishes are honored and protect your loved ones from the emotional hardships that could accompany any difficult decisions they’re forced to make,” shares Clanton. “Even if some of your end-of-life plans are never used, the comfort of knowing they’re ready if you ever need them far outweighs the bit of time and effort put into making them.”
What You Need for a Comprehensive End-of-Life Plan
With the exception of financial documents that pass on your wealth and assets, there are three important arrangements that seniors should include in their end-of-life plan. These include advance directives or living wills, a Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form, and an ethical will.
1. Advance Directives – An advance directive, also called a living will, is a legal, written record of your preferred methods of treatment to be used if you are dying or permanently unconscious. In this document, you can either accept or refuse certain kinds of care, including:
- Breathing machines
- Tube feeding
- Organ donation
A living will communicates your decisions about how you’d like to be cared for, even when you cannot communicate at the time.
Another advance directive, a durable power of attorney for healthcare, names a trusted family member or close friend as your healthcare proxy. This person will be expected to make decisions on your behalf when you are medically unable to do so. A durable power of attorney cannot, however, override any decisions you make if you are conscious and have full mental capacity.
2. Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) – A POLST form (in some states, a MOLST form: Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) supplements a patient’s advance directives by detailing his or her wishes for life-sustaining care specifically. Unlike a living will, which you complete ahead of time to be used in the far future, a POLST form is intended to be used for those who are seriously ill or near the end of life. Except in the case of a terminal illness, this form would most likely be used in the case of a serious, life-threatening emergency.
A POLST form includes medical instructions based on your preferences regarding:
- Receiving CPR or allowing natural death (Do Not Resuscitate) when you have no pulse and aren’t breathing
- Intubation or mechanical ventilation
- Artificially administered fluids or nutrition
- Future hospitalizations, transfers and treatment guidelines
- Other instructions for life-sustaining care when you are unconscious
3. Ethical Wills – While most are familiar with a last will and testament, not as many realize that they can also leave an ethical will as part of their end-of-life plans. Rather than passing down heirlooms or assets, an ethical will passes down a person’s values, beliefs, hopes for the future and other sentiments to those they love.
An ethical will is not a legal document, and it holds no legal power for actions to be taken. Instead, it is a heartfelt statement that you can give to those closest to you in order to leave a legacy of what mattered most in your life. In fact, an ethical will could be the most important part of your end-of-life planning, and one you want to spend plenty of time preparing.
Some suggestions for inclusion in an ethical will might be:
- Beliefs and opinions you hold to be true
- Wisdom learned from life experiences
- What certain people meant to you
- Things that you are grateful for
- Your hopes for the future and wishes for your loved one
- Messages of forgiveness or apologies
An ethical will can be one of the greatest gifts you could give to your family and close friends. It’s also a powerful way to leave a legacy of the parts of life that you feel are most important. An ethical will could inspire family members to carry on your beliefs and keep your memory alive through your example.
Helping You Achieve Your Senior Planning Goals
When it comes to planning for your senior living lifestyle, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay is here to help! Whether you could use help establishing important end-of-life plans or finding the perfect community for worry-free living, our senior living experts are experienced and ready to offer their guidance and support.
“Anytime we make important decisions about our future, we can easily get overwhelmed,” says Clanton. “If you’re feeling lost when it comes to end-of-life planning, we can help you make the process easier. With years of expertise in senior living, our team knows how to give the support you need to find the peace of mind you deserve.”
The Art of Living
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.