Two month old Thomas Schuster IV is the apple of his momma's eye. He was also the motivating factor for his mom and dad Sarah and Tom Schuster to put end of life healthcare wishes in writing in an Advanced Directive.
Sarah says, "My husband and I are both nurses (Sarah is a nurse at Avera McKennan in Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant and her husband Tom works as a critical care nurse at the Avera Heart Hospital) and we have seen in the hospital setting the effect of not having one can have on a family. We've seen it tear families apart when it's a difficult time in their life to begin with. When a family member is in that situation it's best to be prepared and have that done ahead of time so it can be a comfort for your family members."
An Advanced Directive is made up of the 2 documents: a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Living Will specifies your choice regarding life-sustaining treatment in the event you are terminal. You will answer questions like do you want to be kept alive by a ventilator or do you want a feeding tube.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare names someone to speak for you in the event you aren't able to speak for yourself regarding a particular health care decision. You should also update this sheet every 2 years to make sure "your person" is still on board.
Sarah says, "Talk to your family. Communication, I think, is a big part of the Advanced Directive. Let your family know what your wishes are I know it's not always a comfortable conversation to have but in the event you could take comfort that your wishes are carried out the way you want and your family wouldn't have to make that decision for your."
They say everything changes once you bring a child in to the world and that is certainly true for the Sarah and her husband. Sarah says it when it came down to it, it was an easy decision to take responsibility to fill out an advanced directive. By doing so she is taking a tremendous burden off Thomas and his future siblings.
You should also make sure your primary care physician and the person you named as your durable power of attorney for health care have copies of your advanced directive. To print out forms click here or go to www.Avera.org click on "About US" and scroll down the left column to "Advance Care Planning."