Michigan Attorneys Providing Excellence in Estate Planning and Elder Care

Understanding DNR Orders: A Realistic Look at End of Life Decisions

Advice From Your Advocates Podcast - Episode 29

Navigating through the realm of elder law can be a daunting task, particularly when it comes to end-of-life decisions like Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders. These legal documents hold significant implications and are often shrouded in myths and misconceptions. To demystify this complex aspect, we recently hosted Nikki Inches, a resident care navigator and social worker at Mannor Law Group, on our podcast, Advice From Your Advocates.

DNRs are often misunderstood to be the same as healthcare power of attorney or patient advocate designations. However, Nikki clarifies that a DNR is an order signed by oneself, witnesses, and a physician, indicating that one does not want chest compressions started if their heart stops beating. This is starkly different from appointing someone else to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, which is what healthcare power of attorney or patient advocate designations entail.

The conversation further ventured into who gets to make this crucial decision and when it should be discussed. As long as one is able, the decision to sign a DNR lies with them. Ideally, this decision is made after thorough discussions with physicians and family. However, if one is not capable of making this decision, it falls to their legal representative - be it their healthcare power of attorney or guardian.

In nursing home or skilled nursing facility scenarios, only a legal representative can sign a DNR on the patient's behalf. It's essential to understand that a next of kin without legal authority cannot make this decision. This highlights the importance of having legal provisions in place like healthcare power of attorney or patient advocate designations to convey your wishes when you're unable to do so yourself.

One of the most challenging situations arises when dealing with dementia patients. It becomes crucial to initiate conversations about end-of-life decisions as their health declines. These discussions help determine whether a DNR should be put in place, depending on the person's wishes and quality of life considerations.

In summary, DNRs form a critical part of end-of-life decisions and elder law. It's essential to have a clear understanding of their implications and separate them from other healthcare legal provisions like power of attorney or patient advocate designations. These decisions are difficult, but having honest and open discussions with family and legal professionals can provide clarity and ensure that your wishes are respected. If you would like to speak with our team about this difficult topic, we are standing by ready to assist.

Watch this episode of Advice From Your Advocates.You can also listen directly on our website or wherenver you get your podcasts.

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