What Tom Petty can teach you about end-of-life care

Personal Finance


A do-not-resuscitate order is a form signed by a doctor used in the event an individual suffers from a serious advanced illness. The form instructs health-care professionals not to perform CPR. Individuals may also want to consider a do not intubate order, which instructs medical personnel not to insert a tube into the body.

“It’s unusual for someone who is healthy to have a DNR form at home,” McClanahan said. Petty could have established the form because of a known health condition or out of general concern. “He set his own rules. He lived hard, too. You never know,” McClanahan said.

Both DNR and DNI forms can serve as parts of an advance directive, which is signed by an attorney and takes effect in the event that you cannot speak for yourself. That includes a chronic end-stage disease, terminal illness or persistent vegetative state, according to McClanahan.

“You have some massive thing happen to you and it leaves you being a person you don’t want to be,” McClanahan said. “That’s the No. 1 reason you need advance directives.”

One kind of advance directive is a living will, which stipulates the kind of medical care you want to receive. That includes treatment such as tube feeding, dialysis and pain management.

One of the most important parts of putting this kind of plan in place is to communicate with your health-care surrogate, or the person whom you have designated to make decisions for you, McClanahan said. That includes sharing what you would want to happen if you lost the ability to communicate or process bodily functions such as chewing and swallowing, bathing or toileting needs.

“When your health-care surrogate has a measure of what’s important to you, it can help them make better decisions for you,” McClanahan said.



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