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What you need to know about DNRs and hospice care

If you have an aging mother or father, you have probably thought a considerable amount about end-of-life care. When helping your loved one with estate planning, it is a good idea to think about drafting a living will

A medical power of attorney is an important part of any advance directive. With one, your loved one designates someone to make medical decisions on his or her behalf in certain circumstances. Also, you likely want to encourage your loved one to think about resuscitation if the lungs or heart stop working. You should know, though, how a do-not-resuscitate order affects hospice care. 

DNR orders 

As their name suggests, DNR orders document an individual’s wishes to not have doctors, nurses or other medical professionals use resuscitation techniques to save his or her life. Because resuscitation may include many different techniques, ranging from CPR to open-chest heart massage, your loved one has options. That is, your mother or father may decide to forego all types of resuscitation or only certain techniques. 

Eligibility 

Some hospice programs require patients to have a DNR order on file to be eligible for hospice care. That is not always the case, however. To know whether your loved one’s hospice provider requires a DNR order, you must check with the provider. Note, though, programs that receive Medicare funding typically do not have a DNR requirement. 

Palliative care 

Often, infirm or aging patients elect to receive palliative care before entering a hospice program. The goal for both hospice and palliative care is to make the individual as comfortable as possible. Still, with hospice care, doctors typically stop trying to treat the medical condition. Palliative care is usually different, though, as medical professionals continue to fight the disease. Your loved one may choose either to have or not have a DNR order while receiving palliative care. 

Talking about end-of-life care with an aging parent can be difficult. Nevertheless, working on a comprehensive living will or advance directive usually makes sense. When doing so, think about addressing DNR orders and hospice care. With a bit of planning, you can likely increase the odds of having healthcare providers respect your loved one’s wishes.

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