What Is An Advance Directive Document?
An advance directive is a legal document that provides instructions about the medical treatment you wish to receive or avoid if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance directives are an important tool for anyone who wants to ensure that their healthcare wishes are respected and followed, regardless of their ability to communicate those wishes themselves. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what an advance directive document is and why it’s essential to have one.
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that outlines your medical treatment preferences in case you become unable to make those decisions yourself. The two most common types of advance directives are a living will and a medical power of attorney.
A living will is a legal document that outlines your end-of-life treatment preferences. It typically includes your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatments like artificial nutrition and hydration, mechanical ventilation, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
A medical power of attorney is a legal document that designates a trusted person (called a healthcare agent or proxy) to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to make them yourself. Your healthcare agent is typically a family member or close friend who is familiar with your medical history and understands your healthcare wishes.
Why Is It Important to Have an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is an essential document for anyone who wants to ensure that their healthcare wishes are respected and followed if they become incapacitated. Having an advance directive can provide peace of mind to you and your loved ones, knowing that your wishes will be followed even if you are unable to communicate them yourself.
An advance directive can also prevent family members from having to make difficult healthcare decisions on your behalf if they are unsure of your wishes. Without an advance directive, family members may disagree about what medical treatments to authorize, causing tension and discord during an already stressful time.
Moreover, an advance directive can save time and unnecessary medical costs. In the absence of an advance directive, medical professionals may provide treatments that you don’t want or need, resulting in prolonged hospitalization, expensive medical bills, and a diminished quality of life.
When Should You Create an Advance Directive?
You should consider creating an advance directive as soon as possible if you’re an adult. While it may be uncomfortable to think about medical emergencies, injuries, or diseases that could leave you unable to make decisions for yourself, having an advance directive can provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind.
Additionally, if you have a chronic illness, are undergoing treatment for a life-threatening illness, or are nearing the end of your life, it’s especially important to create an advance directive document.
How to Create an Advance Directive Document?
To create an advance directive document, there are a few steps you need to follow:
1. Research State-Specific Laws: Advance directives are governed by state laws. Check your state’s requirements for how to create and sign a living will or a medical power of attorney.
2. Determine Your Wishes: Reflect on the type of medical treatment you would want if you become unable to communicate your wishes. Consider the following questions:
– What end-of-life treatments do you want or not want, such as CPR or mechanical ventilation?
– Who do you want as your healthcare agent or proxy?
3. Choose Your Health Care Proxy: Select a trusted person to act as your healthcare agent or proxy. Discuss your medical treatment wishes with him/her so that your agent fully understands and can advocate for your wishes.
4. Write and Execute the Document: Work with an attorney or use an online legal service to draft a living will and/or medical power of attorney based on your wishes. The document should clearly state your wishes and include your healthcare agent’s name, contact information, and authorization to act on your behalf. You must sign the document in the presence of witnesses or a notary public, depending on the state’s legal requirements.
5. Share your Advance Directive: Give copies of the document to your healthcare agent, your primary care physician, your family members and loved ones, and anyone else who may become involved in your medical care.
An advance directive document is a vital tool that ensures your medical treatment wishes are respected and followed, even if you’re unable to communicate them yourself. Creating an advance directive can provide peace of mind to you and your loved ones. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to research your state’s requirements, determine your wishes, choose your health care proxy, write and execute the document, and share it with your loved ones. An advance directive should be updated regularly to reflect any changes in your medical treatment preferences.
Categorised in: Advance Health Care Directive