It is near impossible to anticipate the complicated messiness of medical decision-making before you or a family member becomes involved in a medical crisis yourselves. One of the things that is hardest to anticipate is the number of decisions that need to be made. People are surprised to find how many big and small things need to be considered and decided on when managing both acute and chronic health crises, some of them immediate others over time.

In addition to making choices for the initial treatment, you may also need to consider alternative options or perhaps might encounter complications once you believe you have found a course of action. Decisions must also be made about when to discontinue treatment, either to seek new treatment or to receive palliative care. As much as it is uncomfortable to think about the circumstance under which we would choose to have our own treatment discontinued or to discuss with loved ones when they want to stop receiving treatment, this is a situation that thousands of people are faced with every year. We don’t want to make these decisions, we will always want to believe the person we love will always be ok and will always be around.

These difficult medical situations are made even more difficult by not being prepared or not preparing loved ones. An Advance Directive, allows you to decide either on your own or as part of a discussion with your family, what type of care you would like to receive and to what extent. These decisions are very individual and very personal.

50% of all surrogate decision-makers suffer clinically significant PTSD afterwards.

As an example, during their last month alive, three out four cancer patients younger than 65 received much too-aggressive treatment and only a handful received comfort-based hospice care instead, according to this recent study.

“You’re not giving up if you don’t do treatment.”  “You’re still fighting for your life, in a different way. You’re fighting to have good days.”