Teresa Buell credits forward-thinking parents who had filled out advance directives for themselves about 15 years ago.
When her father passed away ten years ago, her mother spoke on his behalf in the hospital.
"This summer my mom got unexpectedly sick and had an aggressive cancer diagnosis," Buell said.
Buell says you never imagine you'll have to make medical decisions for your loved one. When the time came that she needed to do that for her mom, she's glad the advance directive was there to guide her.
"It talked about who would be the person to speak for you if you couldn't speak for yourself. What medical procedures you wanted or didn't want and what you would like for comfort," Buell said
Buell said her mother told her she did not want to be resuscitated. Sanford faith community nurses' director Karla Cazer says decisions like that can be very stressful if you haven't already talked about it.
"Actually there's research out that shows that families have less stress and they feel better about the decisions they've made," Cazer said
Cazer says they encourage families to talk about their preferences, fill out a form and have that scanned into their medical files.
"It can be witnessed by two people and then it's an official document or you can have it notarized. It's a little different in every state so it's important to check with your state," Cazer said.
The advance directive helps you answer those big medical questions for your loved one in a crisis situation. It also helps you answer some smaller, but still important, ones like what type of music they want played in the room
"I read every day and I would love someone to come in and read me the paper. So there's actually a lot of personal things that you can put in this document," Cazer said.
And including those personal touches can make an emotional time easier for everyone.
Cazer says if you haven't filled out an advance directive with your family yet, there are free facilitators who can help walk you through the process. Contact a Sanford facilitator at (605) 312-3520 or by email.
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It's difficult to imagine the tough decisions we would have to make in a medical emergency. That's why doctors and hospitals want you to have a plan in place.