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An empowered future


February is my birthday month. I’ve always been a bit strange in that my birthday serves as an annual reminder that my days are numbered. Maybe you reflect in the same way.

Each year I notice how my body doesn’t do what it once did, how I can’t stay up as late, I can’t move as easily after being in the same position for a while and I don’t shed those holiday pounds as easily as I once did. I know that many of you who read this will look at me and think I am young and, in the grand scheme of things, that is true, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not as young as I once was (who is?).

The question remains: Am I ready to get older? Am I prepared as well as I can be? This year I’m reflecting on what I need to get in place in order to have my medical wishes honored should I have a loss of decision-making ability.

It’s important that I talk with my spouse and family about my desires related to this. Yet, I can do more. I can take legal steps to ensure my wishes are honored. One of the things I already have in place is a living will, sometimes called an advanced directive. This is a document that details the measures I would like or not like taken in the event of a number of medical situations.

This is a great first step and something I’ve had since I was in my 20s (I told you I’ve always thought about how my days are numbered!). However, each state has different laws. I’m originally from Minnesota and had a living will there, but that was no longer valid once I moved to Michigan.

More recently I found out there is a second piece that I don’t have in place that I really think I should which is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This is a document that has to be witnessed so that one cannot be coerced into doing it. The document lists at least one person, but sometimes a priority listing of more than one person, who can take medical action on your behalf.

A living will is static, but a durable power of attorney enables that person to interpret the living will. This can be important because it’s very hard to write a living will to address EVERY possible medical situation that might come up. Without a durable power of attorney, one might be stuck in a medical situation they didn’t prepare for and on life-saving measures they never intended.

The State of Michigan has a great resource to explain both living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care. Check it out at this link and make sure that you have everything in place so that your medical wishes are honored.

Last Updated on January 26, 2024

The Michigan Conference