According to the National Institution on Aging, advanced directives are an important way to protect your life from unpleasant protraction or premature termination “Advanced Care Planning: Healthcare Directives.” Regardless of your age, receiving the care that you want in a medical crises is vital.
There are two core elements to any advanced directive a living will and a Durable Power of Attorney for health care; you can also make use of several other smaller documents to ensure that your wishes are known and to remove that pressure from your caregivers and family.
This document is an outline of the treatment that you would like to be given by your physicians if you are unconscious, unable to communicate, or otherwise capacitated and require invasive medical attention such as artificial nutrition or ventilation. It can also provide guidance regarding resuscitation and the sort of care and comfort that you would like during your care.
Durable Power of Attorney for health care
If you are unable to make the sorts of difficult decisions that can be required in medical crisis, this legal document provides for an agent to take your place. In effect, they have the same sort of authority over your life as you do, if you are unable to communicate. Accordingly, it is important to select a person that knows you well and will respect your desires and values. Many people are concerned that if they decide in advance through a will or a different legal document it could be the wrong decision to have made when the medical crisis occurs. Designating an agent using this document ensures decisions made for you in these sorts of crises are informed decisions.
Other Advanced Care Planning Documents
A living will can only cover so much; thus, other documents can sometimes be helpful. Especially, if a treatment is likely to be required at some point, giving specific instructions regarding that treatment may be helpful. You could have your attorney draft any number of orders to ensure that you are cared for in the way that you desire. For instance, a Do Not Resuscitate or Do Not Intubate Order would prevent your physicians from expending effort to protract your life if your heart or digestive system become inoperable. Alternatively, you could request Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment to ensure that you are cared for in the proper way as efficiently as possible in an emergency.
Preparing an advanced directive ensures that regardless of the crisis your voice will be heard. Even if you are healthy and have a family prepared for those hard decisions; it might be wise to supply them with some legal guidance and relieve some of the pressure of these choices.
Reference: National Institute on Aging (January 15, 2018) “Advanced Care Planning: Healthcare Directives.”