What is an Advance Directive?

what-is-an-advance-directiveAn advance directive, sometimes known as simply a living will, is a term that covers a number of various types of legal arrangements that specify what should happen if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. These kinds of legal documents will let you clarify ahead of time what kinds of decisions you want to see put in place if you are near death and unable to communicate with your loved ones.

While no one wants to think about such things, taking the proactive steps to look into advance directives is wise not only for your own benefit, but for that of your family. Doing so will provide immeasurable peace of mind for both you and for those left to carry on without you and will avoid confusion or discord.

About Advance Directives

Advance directives spell out in detail the kind of treatment you hope to receive if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes to hospital staff. This kind of document can dictate the kinds of interventions you want, as well as those you do not want. You can specify to what extent you personally wish for medical practitioners to go in order to sustain your life. An advance directive or living will come in numerous forms, and the criteria required of each varies by state. It’s a good idea to seek legal advice in order to learn the specific details for your state.

About Living Wills

While the term is often used interchangeably with advance directives, living wills are a specific form of directive. It is the legally binding document that lays out in detail the kinds of medical treatments and interventions you desire if you are facing an end-of-life situation with no way to communicate your desires. This type of directive does not name a specific person to make decisions in your place.

About Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney, or DPA, is the kind of directive that allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. It becomes active the minute you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your own wishes. A DPA is a good choice for you if there is someone you trust to make life decisions for you. Be sure you have spoken to that person in advance and that they are completely aware of your preferences.

About Do Not Resuscitate Orders

A DNR, do not resuscitate, order is another type of directive that asserts your desire to not have any form of resuscitation performed on you as a life-saving measure. Without a DNR, medical personnel are obligated to try to help you in the event that you stop breathing or your heart stops. A DNR can be placed in your medical records by your physician so that your wishes are known in the case of an emergency.

As you can see, advanced directives are an efficient way to ensure that your desires are carried out during a medical situation in which you are not able to communicate them. An advanced directive or living will can offer peace of mind for you, as well as for your family and loved ones.

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