Experts: Advance healthcare directives crucial at any age

Apr 15, 2022, 7:42 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:25 pm

CEDAR CITY, Utah — For many, the pandemic brought home the importance of planning for the unexpected. People of all ages faced serious illness that sometimes required end-of-life decisions about healthcare.

For Hannah Blackmon, who lives in Cedar City, every breath is precious. She had a serious bout with COVID-19 last September.

“I barely remember being at the hospital,” Blackmon said. “I was like, struggling to breathe, really, really horribly.”

At 36, she had never prepared an advance healthcare directive.

“It was definitely a wake-up call,” she said.

But after being intubated and flown to Intermountain Medical Center, she faced a new reality.

“I was in complete shock when I heard all this stuff. I didn’t realize it was that bad.”

Hannah Blackmon speaks with her son while fighting COVID-19 in the hospital. Hannah Blackmon and her husband.

According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, more than 90% of us think it’s important talk about end-of-life care with loved ones, yet less than 30% have done so.

“That’s incredibly important,” said Dr. Dominic Moore, medical director for Palliative Care, Intermountain Healthcare.

Moore said an advance directive makes sure your voice is heard, in case you can’t speak for yourself.

It’s also an act of kindness for loved ones who would be left guessing without it.

“That’s a very heavy weight,” he said. “It’s something that no one wants to get wrong. And the stakes are often very high.”

Moore recommends first, discuss your wishes with loved ones. Decide what’s important to you and document it.

It’s as simple as filling out this form available online through the state.

“It’s always too early until it’s too late,” Moore said.

Update your advance directive if you get a serious diagnosis, your health is declining, you get a divorce, or if your designated healthcare agent dies.

It’s advice Blackmon recommends as she slowly recovers.

“My family almost lost me,” she said. “You can’t predict what’s going to happen, but you just want to be ready.”

Finding peace knowing that come what may, they’re prepared.

For more information about advance directives, visit Intermountain Healthcare’s website or National Healthcare Decisions Day for state-specific requirements.

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Experts: Advance healthcare directives crucial at any age