While making health care decisions is often difficult in the best of circumstances, making decisions for others is even more complicated. Yet each of us has the power to tell our physicians and our loved ones what types of medical care and treatments we do — and do not — want.

I encourage you to not only discuss your personal health care goals with your physicians and loved ones but to also document these wishes.

In Louisiana, we have three advance care planning tools available to us. An advance directive, or living will, gives us the ability to document the types of health care we do and do not want, and a health care power of attorney authorizes someone else to make decisions on our behalf if we become unable to make those decisions for ourselves.

We also have the Louisiana Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment, or LaPOST document, designed specifically for those with serious, advanced illnesses. It is a medical order that outlines our wishes for medical treatment and goals of care. LaPOST is neither for nor against treatments, completely voluntary and is completed only after a serious discussion with our physicians about the treatment options that will best help us reach the goals we have for our end-of-life care.

Please discuss your goals of care with your loved ones and health care providers. These conversations truly have the power to change lives.

To learn more about advance care planning options in Louisiana, visit www.la-post.org.

Susan Nelson

chairwoman, LaPOST Coalition

Baton Rouge