Today we are recognizing National Healthcare Decisions Day, intended to empower and inspire people to prepare or review their advance directives. An advance directive, sometimes called a living will, is a legal document that outlines your health care preferences in the event that you become unable to make or communicate those choices. As part of the document, you choose a person, your “health care agent,” who will advocate for you during times when you so not have decision-making capacity.
We frequently receive questions about advance care planning and Act 39 (Medical Aid in Dying) in the context of dementia or severe cognitive decline. People ask us whether they can direct the use of medical aid in dying in advance, specifically in the case of dementia. The short answer is no. However there are steps you can take to help avoid prolonged life with severe dementia.
PCV Welcomes New Jersey
New Jersey Governor Murphy last week signed New Jersey’s medical aid in dying law, which is similar to Vermont’s Act 39. New Jersey is now the eighth State and ninth jurisdiction to authorize medical aid in dying. Momentum is building in large part because of successful experience in Vermont and the other states that allow medical aid in dying. When populous states like New Jersey are added to the list, we get a step closer to aid in dying and end-of-life discussions becoming a normal part of end-of-life care. More doctors will learn to guide patients through these decisions, and medical curriculum will increasingly address the training needs of medical professionals. Every time we in Vermont talk to our doctors, our neighbors, to friends in other states, we advance acceptance of end-of-life choice.