Advance Directives

Advance Directives 400

An Advance Direc­tive (AD) is a writ­ten state­ment about your future med­ical care. It is a gift to fam­i­ly mem­bers and friends so that they won’t have to guess what you want if you no longer can speak for yourself.

Why do I need an Advance Directive? Med­ical tech­nol­o­gy makes it pos­si­ble for patients with lit­tle or no hope of recov­ery to be kept alive for months or even years. This makes it impor­tant for you to dis­cuss what kind of care you want before ill­ness occurs.

Now is the time to talk about these impor­tant issues, while you can still make your own deci­sions and have time to talk about them with oth­ers. If you don’t have an advance direc­tive, and even one per­son inter­est­ed in your care dis­agrees, your doc­tor may not hon­or your wish­es for end of life care.

What do I put in my advance direc­tives? The kind of med­ical treat­ment you want or don’t want. You can say whether or not you want to be kept alive by machines that breathe for you or feed you even if there is no hope you’ll get bet­ter. The per­son you want to make deci­sions for you when you cannot. This per­son (or agent) does not have to be an attor­ney. Unless you lim­it your agent’s author­i­ty, your agent has the right to accept or refuse any kind of med­ical care and test­ing, dis­charge or select doc­tors, and see all med­ical records. Your wish­es for com­fort care. You can indi­cate whether you want med­i­cine for pain or where you want to spend your last days. You can also give spir­i­tu­al, eth­i­cal and reli­gious instructions.

How can I ensure that my advance direc­tive is honored? Share copies and talk with peo­ple who will be involved in your care. Ask your doc­tor to make your advance direc­tive part of your med­ical records.