Managing Your Wishes

What’s on your New Year Resolution checklist? Maybe you plan to eat less and exercise more. Or maybe you want to do more for others. But have you thought about doing something for yourself that could be a life-changer for those around you? You might want to consider adding a plan for end of life care to this year’s resolution checklist.

A 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll revealed that only 29% of people over 65 have discussed end of life care wishes with their physician and  more than 40% have not documented their wishes. A recent incident in Miami highlights the importance of documenting your end of life wishes.

From the Washington Post:

Doctors in Miami faced an unusual ethical dilemma when an unconscious, deteriorating patient was brought into the emergency room with the words “Do Not Resuscitate” across his chest.

The 70-year-old man was taken earlier this year to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where doctors made their startling discovery: a chest tattoo that seemed to convey the patient’s end-of-life wishes. The word “Not” was underlined, and the tattoo included a signature.

According to CBS News, the man’s doctors were conflicted. “They also mentioned being concerned about the potential unknown circumstances in which a person might get such a tattoo. What if the patient had done it while under the influence of drugs or alcohol?”

Fortunately, as Fox News pointed out, “officials found an official copy of the man’s DNR order from the Florida Department of Health. He died overnight without further lifesaving efforts.

“We were relieved to find his written DNR request, especially because a review of the literature identified a case report of a person whose DNR tattoo did not reflect his current wishes,” the doctors added.

All to say, documenting your wishes is a critical piece of your end of life care. There are many tools, including free resources and forms, you can use to walk through the process and make your wishes known; access them through Thoughtful Life Conversations (TLC) website.  Once you’ve had the conversation, be sure to document it, and to share a copy with your family, your medical power of attorney and your healthcare providers.

TLC put together a short video on the importance of making sure your end of life wishes are known. You can watch it by clicking here or on the picture below.


Some may think advance care planning is something one should do when you get sick, but that may be the worst time. Having these conversations, “before the crisis” is not only much easier, it is much  more valuable.

If you still believe it’s too early or just not the right time to have a thoughtful life conversation about end of life care – remember…’s always too early until it’s too late. AzHHA wants to encourage you to have that conversation. It’s another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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