An Advance Directive is a document that lays out your preferences for health care treatment, in the occasion that you are not able to make those wishes known yourself. While these situations can be unpleasant to think about, having a document like an advance directive can save your family a great deal of stress in an already stressful time. While completing your advance directives, discuss your values and what “quality of life” means to you with your loved ones, your doctor and anyone else you may want to involve. If you become unable to communicate directions yourself, your advance directive will help healthcare providers, family members and friends make decisions that more closely reflect your preferences.
Most states recognize the following types of advance directives for health care treatment:
- Living Wills A written document stating your wishes regarding health care treatment in the event that you are not able to give consent.
- Durable Medical Powers of Attorney This document designates an agent to make decisions for you in the event you become, either temporarily or permanently, unable to give medical consent due to mental or physical incapacity. This person should be a close friend, family member or other person whom you know and trust to make decisions based on your preferences and values. It should be someone who can make non-emotional decisions based on your wishes.
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Directive This directive can be obtained from your health care provider and is intended to be used when you are certain that you do not want CPR to be administered.
- Health Care Proxy Most states provide for proxy decision-makers for medical treatment when a patient is unable to speak for him/herself. This informal process is intended to permit “interested persons,” including family members and close friends who know the incapacitated person’s values and preferences, to make decisions regarding medical treatment by consensus.