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    Writing an Advance Directive - Why an Advance Directive Is Important

    An advance directive is important in case something happens to you and you can't speak for yourself. It gives you control over your own medical care if you're badly hurt or if you develop a serious illness and you can't make your own medical decisions. It's also very important for your family and your doctor. They can use the information in your advance directive to make choices for you if you can't make them yourself.

    A living will and a medical power of attorney are the main types of advance directives.

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    If you don't have a living will and a health care agent, a person other than your family member may decide what kind of care you receive. A decision may be made by a doctor who doesn't know you, or it may even be made by the courts. In some states, you need to make clear and give permission in your advance directive that you don't want to be fed through a tube or receive other kinds of life support.

    Sometimes you and your family may need help agreeing on the best way to meet your medical needs. Eldercare mediation can help families work together.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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