What Employers & Employees Should Know
During my final weeks of pregnancy, I went through all of the necessary nesting phases; cleaning closets, washing windows, shampooing carpets, laundry.
As I went through the handy-dandy to-do list from my “Preparing for Baby” class, I was surprised to see “filling out an advance directive” on the list.
It Never Crossed My Mind Before
I have to be honest; it had never crossed my mind that I might want to prepare an advance directive. I wasn’t even sure what it was.
But I am a type-A individual so I needed to get everything checked off my list before fully committing to having this baby. I started by taking a look at the
I thought it would only take a couple of minutes to fill out. Boy was I wrong, I spent a half-day just researching what advance directives are, what a health care agent is and how I would like to end my life. Yikes!
Understanding and Preparing an Advance Directive
Here is how the United States National Library of Medicine describes an advance directive:
“Legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on.”
You use the advance directive form to choose a health care agent to take charge of your health care decisions in the event you become unable to do so.
You can download forms by visiting your hospital’s website and typing “Advance Directives” in the search box or by visiting your States Department of Health Services website.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers an online site (CaringInfo.org) that walks you through the steps of filling out the form. I definitely needed the help!
End-of-Life Decisions are the Hardest Part
The next step is the hardest part since you have to decide how you would like to end your own life.
I found it helpful to read stories online from others who made these decisions. Consumer Reports has a great feature titled A Beautiful Death. It shares the story of a man who lived a great life and offers more resources for preparing an advance directive and for your caregivers.
Why Should Employers Get Involved?
According to a SHRM article titled Tackling the Last Taboo, Discussing End-of-Life Issues, death is a topic usually avoided in the workplace. Yet more than 630,000 working adults die each year, which affects you as an employer as well as spouses, children and other friends that work for other employers.
When advance directives aren’t available, it can create a financial burden for employees and employers alike. Typically, the duration of medical costs increase. For caregivers, time off work increases and there is a significant loss of productivity.
Employers are Influential
What employers may not know is just how influential they are to their employees, which is why it is important to educate individuals on the importance of preparing an advance directive.
The Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH), a business coalition comprised of 115 large public and private employer organizations, offers a hub titled Employers and Advance Directives.
This website acts as a toolkit for information on the importance of advance directives and how to guide employees to resources for creating advance directives. You can visit the MBGH Employer Toolkit on Benefits Literacy and Consumerism here.
Editor’s Note – We are pleased to share that Tierney delivered a healthy baby boy.
In addition to her work at The Alliance, Tierney is an active member on The Business Forum, previously serving on the board and acting as senior chair for the ATHENA committee. Tierney also participates in the Advertising Federation of Madison and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network of Madison.
Tierney earned her bachelor's degree of business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with an emphasis in information systems and a certification on the Project Management Body of Knowledge.
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