I was nearing the end of a virtual medical appointment and was ready to hang up when my doctor interrupted me.
“One last thing - I need you to complete your advance directive before the next meeting. I know it can be a lot to take, but we recommend it to all of our patients.
She hung up the phone and I sat down trying to process everything. I had a feeling of stomach ache thinking about the events leading up to this moment. The previous week, I had a spontaneous tear in an artery in my neck. It is one of the most common causes of stroke in healthy people under the age of 40. My doctor told me that I was one of the “lucky ones” and that I needed a full recovery. Yet at 29, I was suddenly too aware of the fragility of life.
It was not the first time that I had heard of an advance directive. I knew everyone over 18 should fill one. It allows you to guide future medical care and ease the potential burden on your loved ones if they are able to make health-related decisions on your behalf. I assumed an advance directive was something I could think about and address later. It was not a priority at the time.
Death and loss are becoming taboo subjects in a society that fears aging and the end of life. I considered myself comfortable talking about death until I faced my own mortality in unexpected ways. It would have been easier to plan my end-of-life decisions on my own terms rather than being told I had to do it after a traumatic health event. I would have liked to be more prepared. It wasn't something I could put off, so I reached out to my health care provider and took some time to complete my advance directive.
What is an advance directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that enables a person to plan and describe their general medical preferences and end-of-life care decisions. This document guides healthcare providers if a person is no longer able to make decisions. We often talk about a living will. It includes topics such as decisions about life extension measures (such as resuscitation or ventilators), organ or tissue donation, autopsy preferences, and hospice or hospice care. It is also possible to appoint a health care agent or health care proxy. Someone you can trust to act on advance directive when necessary and make decisions in unforeseen circumstances.
An advance directive does not deal with financial matters or medical decisions related to mental health. The forms vary according to state laws and can be updated or terminated at any time. It is recommended to review and update them regularly, especially in the event of a major life change or health event.
Many advance directives will also include a section on personal preferences for comfort and end-of-life rituals. Here are sample topics, although they may differ depending on the specific form:
- Religious preferences or rituals
- Comfort needs such as preferred sleeping positions, music or scents
- Desire so close to the end of life, including who should be there if possible
- Personal messages to leave with friends and family in case of inability to communicate
Taking the time to discuss end-of-life plans and medical preferences seemed daunting at first. After setting aside time to do it and discussing my wishes with my loved ones, it empowered me. Death is guaranteed. Make it a priority and take the time to prepare.
If you are over 18, consider talking to your health care provider or a lawyer about an advance directive. Then take the time to talk to your loved ones about your personal preferences. Death is a natural part of life, and we can work to become more comfortable with talking at any age. Taking the time to prepare now is not only for your personal benefit, but also for those who care for you.
- Types of advance directives
- Download your state's advance directive
- Honoring Wisconsin Choices
- Advance directives
What does it mean to age gracefully ? You can’t stand in a checkout line without seeing at least a few magazine headlines about how to look younger. While dreading some wrinkles and sagging isn’t uncommon, there’s so much more to aging well.
Aging gracefully isn’t about trying to look like a 20-something — it’s about living your best life and having the physical and esprit health to enjoy it. Like a bottle of wine, you can get better with age with the right care. Read on to find out what to do and what not to do on your quest to age happily.
Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide sensation. tera keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.
Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide sensation. to keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.
Regular exercise significantly lowers your risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and helps you retain your mobility longer. Exercise also lowers stress and improves sleep, skin and bone health, and mood. The Department of Health
Healthy foods are the way to go when it comes to aging gracefully. The Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source recommends that you eat : fruits and vegetables, either fresh, frozen, or cannedlean protein, such as fish and beansat least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta every daythree servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cheese that are fortified with vitamin Dhealthy fatsAvoid using solid fats for cooking and use oils instead. Stay away from processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. You should also keep your salt intake to a minimum to keep your blood pressure down.
Being happy and keeping your stress down goes a long way in helping you live and age well. tera keep your mood elevated : Spend time with friends and loved ones. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve mental and physical well-being and longevity. Don’t forget your furry loved ones as having a pet has been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, reduced loneliness, and better moods. Accept your age. There is evidence that people who maintain a positive attitude about aging real longer and may recover better from a disability. Aging is inevitable and learning to embrace it can make all the difference. Do things you enjoy. Taking the time to engage in activities you enjoy will only mazout your happiness. Spend time in nature, pursue a new hobby, volunteer — whatever brings you joy.
Numerous studiesTrusted Source have linked a sedentary life to an increased risk of chronic illness and early death. Some possibilités to stay réactive are going on walks and hikes, taking vacations, and participating in group exercise classes.
The effects of stress on your body are vast, ranging from premature aging and wrinkles to a higher risk of heart disease. There are a number of proven ways to relieve stress, including : using relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yogaexercisinggetting adequate sleeptalking to a friend
Smoking and alcohol have both been shown to cause premature aging and increase the risk of disease. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are resources available to help you quit. Speak to a doctor about how to quit. As for alcohol, limit your intake to the recommendedTrusted Source amount to avoid health risks. That’s one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Good sleep is important for your physical and esprit health. It also plays a role in your skin’s health. How much sleep you need depends on your age. Adults over 18 should aim for seven to eight hoursTrusted Source of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep has been proven to : lower the risk of heart disease and strokereduce stress and depressionlower the risk of obesityreduce inflammationimprove focus and concentration
Finding new and meaningful hobbies can help you maintain a sense of purpose and keep you engaged throughout the course of your life. Evidence shows that people who engage in hobbies and leisure and social activities are happier, experience less depression, and live longer.
Mindfulness is about acceptance and living in the moment by focusing on the present. Practicing mindfulness has many proven health benefits that can help you age better, including : improved focusbetter memorylower stressimproved emotional reactionrelationship satisfactionincreased immune functioningTo practice mindfulness, try : meditationyogatai chicoloring
Drinking enough water helps keep you regular and improves your energy levels and brain function. Coincidentally, it’s also been provenTrusted Source to help keep skin healthier and reduce signs of aging. How much water you should drink depends on : your thirstyour activity levelhow often you urinate and move your bowelshow much you sweatyour genderSpeak to a doctor if you have questions or concerns about your water intake.
Not taking care of your teeth not only ages your smile, but also puts you at risk for gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and bacterial pneumonia. Along with proper oral care, it’s important to see a dentist regularly. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can spot signs of nutritional deficiencies, contagion, cancer, and other illnesses, such as diabetes. They recommend brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using a mouth rinse.
Seeing a doctor regularly can help the doctor find problems early or even before they start. How often you see a doctor depends on your age, lifestyle, family history, and existing conditions. Ask your doctor how often you should go in for checkups and screening tests as you age. Also, see a doctor anytime you experience concerning symptoms.
Though aging is inevitable, some people find it difficult to deal with the changes that come with getting older. If you’re worried about your health, are having trouble feeling positive about aging, or worry that you’re not aging well it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend. Professional help is also available through a doctor or a counselor.
Aging gracefully is more about being saine and happy than keeping wrinkles at bay. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, surround yourself with people you love, and do things that bring you joy. It’s natural to worry about the challenges that aging can bring, so don’t hesitate to speak to someone about your concerns.