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The last thing an aging person in Kansas City wants to be is a burden on their loved ones. For this reason, many choose to make their end-of-life wishes known while they are still in good mental and physical health. Such decisions may include whether they would like to be put on life support, if necessary, or whether they would prefer hospice to further medical treatments when faced with a terminal illness.

People can seek out the advice of elder care attorneys in such matters. These attorneys can help them draw up the appropriate legal documents, such as a living will and powers of attorney.

Others may seek the advice of trusted physicians when making such decisions about life-prolonging interventions. In fact, doctors who have advance care planning (ACP) discussions with patients can be reimbursed by Medicare for doing so. However, as of last April, only 14 percent of physicians who regularly saw patients 65-years-old or older submitted ACP bills for reimbursement.

This is an important figure. One 2012 survey found that 80 percent of those surveyed reported it was important for them to discuss their final wishes with their physicians if they were facing a serious illness. And, 60 percent of those surveyed reported it was extremely important that they do not put their loved ones in the burdensome position of having to make these decisions.

Physicians can provide a lot of information about a person’s illness, letting them know of the prognosis, what procedures are necessary and their effectiveness. But, in the end, even if a person in Kansas City does have an ACP discussion with their physician, he or she may still want to visit an attorney, to make the decisions legally binding. By doing so, the person’s loved ones are spared the burden of deciding whether to cease life-prolonging procedures, not knowing the wishes of their loved one.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Doctors slow to have end-of-life conversations,” Kay Manning, Dec. 6, 2016