One of the issues individuals struggle with is developing a decision-making framework that promotes that individual’s values. The Elder Law Practice is uniquely positioned to assist you in addressing this issue because we work regularly with elders facing chronic illnesses, and with individuals who have special needs. We understand that independence and dignity are best preserved when a patient either makes his or her own decisions, or when those decisions are made in a manner consistent with the patient’s values.
We begin by facilitating the execution of documents that appoint the right person as health agent. In most cases, this means appointment of a spouse or a child as health agent. In other cases, the person most likely to follow the patient’s values is a trusted friend or advisor. The document Georgia patients use to facilitate this process is an Advance Directive for Health Care.
The next thing we do when we work with individuals who are concerned about health advocacy is to facilitate either frank conversations between the patient and the health agent, or the completion of a health values questionnaire. These conversations or questionnaires serve to communicate the patient’s values to the health care agent (and other family members). Further, completion of a questionnaire serves the purpose of memorializing values in a way that prevents family discord, particularly over end-of-life decision-making.
Another area where we serve as health advocate is in educating individuals and health agents regarding their rights. Sometimes there is disagreement between the patient or health agent and a health care provider. Often this is the result of misunderstandings or poor communication. We help patients and their families understand their rights in the context of a hospital discharge, in a health care facility such as an assisted living facility or nursing home. While we do not provide any health care services, we facilitate good communication between health care providers and patient families with a goal toward improving outcomes. In those cases where communication breaks down completely, we can also go to bat for you. We regularly become involved in administrative hearings involving patients, Medicare and Medicaid over care or payment issues. If your case requires litigation in a civil court, we can assist you in identifying someone who can meet those needs too.
Presentation on Advance Directives (requires Flash Player to view)