POLST is an acronym for the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment form. In a nutshell, it’s a form that instructs doctors about the kinds of end-of-life treatments a person wants and what they do not want. A POLST form should not be confused with other kinds of end-of-life documents like a living will, though. Knowing more about the POLST form can help family caregivers decide if their elderly parent needs one.

Caregiver Haines City FL - What is a POLST Form and Does Your Parent Need One?

Caregiver Haines City FL – What is a POLST Form and Does Your Parent Need One?

What’s on a POLST Form?

A POLST form is just one page long. While many states recognize the validity of the form, not all of them do, so check with the senior’s state health department to see if it is recognized there. The forms are a little different in each state, but the basic elements of the POLST form are:

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): This part of the form applies only when your parent is not responsive, does not have a pulse, and isn’t breathing. The form allows seniors to indicate whether or not they want CPR. This is different from a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order which only lets people state they don’t want CPR.

Medical Interventions: This section applies when CPR isn’t needed but the person has some sort of medical emergency and cannot communicate their wishes. Doctors will always provide care, but this form lets the patient express what kinds of treatments they want. The choices presented are full treatment, limited or select treatment, and comfort measures only.

Artificially Administered Nutrition: This section applies when the patient is unable to take food or hydration by mouth. It allows the person to indicate whether they want artificially administered nutrition and what kind.

Signatures: The form must be signed by a health care professional. States determine which professionals are qualified to sign the form. In most states, the patient or their representative must also sign the form.

Why Have a POLST Form?

A POLST form is a good idea for your parent if they are seriously ill or frail, putting them in danger of being unable to express their wishes near the end of their life. Since the form is a legal document, it ensures that medical professionals and caregivers will follow their wishes.

Although these kinds of decisions and conversations are difficult to have, it’s important for adult children who are caregivers to their parents to know what their parent wants when they near death. It can make being a caregiver easier because it takes the burden of making life-or-death decisions like these off your shoulders.


If you or an aging loved-one are considering Caregiver Services in Haines City FL, please contact the caring staff at Helping Hands Nursing Services today. To learn about our affordable rates and obtain a FREE assessment for your loved one, call (863) 616-1888.

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