Writing an Advance Directive - Why an Advance Directive Is Important
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.
living will makes clear the kinds of medical care you
want to receive if you get seriously hurt or ill and can't make choices for
yourself. This can include whether you want to be kept alive by machines and/or
medicines as your health gets worse and there is little chance that you'll get
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A medical power of attorney lets you name a person to
make treatment decisions for you when you can't speak for yourself. This person
is called a
health care agent or health care proxy.
If you've done an advance directive, share it with your family, your
doctor, and your health care agent. Don't assume that they know what you want
if you don't have one. This is a time when you can answer any questions they
may have and be sure that they know what you want. An advance directive takes
the burden away from your family so that they don't have to decide what is best
for you. And it makes sure that your wishes are met.
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
A living will isn't for everyone. Some people choose not
to have one for religious or spiritual reasons. If you don't want to have one,
tell your family and your doctor. They should respect your wishes.