When a loved one is dying, making medical decisions on his or her behalf can be emotionally and legally taxing.
In Health Plus, why hospitals are encouraging families to get advanced directives in place now.
When Nancy Weber's mother's health was failing fast, it was too late to ask for her medical wishes.
"About eight years ago my mother became ill unexpectedly and when that happened we had not had that discussion and so all of a sudden the three children were faced with making the decision regarding what her healthcare was going to be into the future," said Nancy Weber, Chief Nursing Officer.
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Allen Health Systems and Cedar Valley Hospice are partnering to encourage eastern Iowans 18 and older to get an advance directive.
"It really is a team effort between physicians and family members to make these decisions and so without having those discussions beforehand we don't know what your wishes are," said Dr. Paul Franke, Chief Medical Officer.
Hospital officials say a durable power of attorney or a living will qualify as advance directives in Iowa, but extra legal steps should be taken.
"You need to make sure that you have a responsible power of attorney that you know will execute your wishes even if other members of the family might disagree with them," Dr. Mike Deters, Cedar Valley Hospice.
The key is having a conversation with your loved ones when they're still healthy.
"We plan so much for anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas and weddings. And the one inevitable aspect of life that's gonna happen to all of us that we are all going to die. And so it doesn't have to be a morbid event but it can be a very introspective evaluation and discussion with the family about what I want if I can't make a decision," said Dr. Deters.
"Just because you don't want to be resuscitated should your heart stop or you should need to be put on a breathing machine, that does not mean that we're going to stop treating you with other interventions up to that point."
You can print free advanced directive forms by going to one of these websites: