If your parent has severe medical complications and cannot make decisions on their own, it can really complicate the treatment process. Some people have written out what they want and do not want in a document called an advance directive, but many people neglect to use this, even if they have done other parts of their estate planning. This means that doctors may not know what steps to take, and the parents may be in no condition to instruct them.
For instance, deaths from the recent COVID-19 pandemic are vastly higher for those who are 55 years old and older. Reports from the CDC show that no children or teenagers have died from the disease — they can get it, but it’s far milder — whereas death totals are highest for those who are 85 and above, followed by those from 65-75. That middle group, from 75-85, is not far behind.
This is a respiratory disease, and so treatment often means hooking patients to ventilators in the hospital. Is that a type of treatment your parent would have wanted? Are they able to communicate their wishes in the ICU?
If not, some of these decisions still need to get made. It can be hard for family members to know what to do or who can do it. A useful document in a situation like that is a medical power of attorney, which gives one agent the ability to make decisions for the parent. This gives doctors someone to work with and ensures that the parent’s own wishes are met.