Making Medical Decisions In A Crisis

If you’re the health care decision maker for your loved one, you might be asked to make some very important decisions with short notice.

When a crisis occurs, it’s easy, and natural, to get caught up in the fear. Fear is not good for making the best decisions. If you can, have a friend join you or call an Aging Life CareTM Manager. As an aging well expert, the manager can help in guiding you through the crisis. You do not have to do it alone!

Vicki Kind, ethicist and author of The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making, has put forth these steps to promote clear thinking:

  • Prepare a 911 list. Get your list done before a crisis occurs—having your reminder list ready before rushing out the door. Do you need care for a child or pet? To notify an employer? Do you have your medications, food, and water? Maybe even an extra set of clothes and a book, and paper for note taking? Phone charger? Wallet?
  • Steady your mind. Take a few minutes to get calm, by praying, calling someone, or going for a walk. Think positive, “I can stay clear-headed and do what’s needed.”
  • Clarify the timeline. You might hear that a decision is needed “now.” But find out what “now” actually means. In the next hour? Or by tomorrow?
  • Gather information. Find out as much as possible about all the options, the benefits of each, and the risks and possible negative outcomes. Determine the long-term consequences.
  • Review and decide. Take notes and reread them. While considering all of the options, think of your loved one’s values and priorities. Talk through the options with a friend or professional. Create a spreadsheet of pros and cons for each option. Confirm your logic for the decision, and go forward with it.