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When the time has come to move to Assisted Living, it may also be time to check your medical/legal arrangements. An Advance Directive isn’t just for older folks. “Because unexpected situations can happen at any age, all adults need advance directives,” notes Mayo Clinic in a website article, “Living Wills and Advance Directives for Medical Decisions.
What is an advance directive? It is a series of written instructions to use when you are unable to make healthcare decisions. An advance directive is more than a living will; it is a compilation of medical/legal documents.
Why should you have an advance directive? One of the best reasons is that it gives you control over your healthcare. With an advance directive your wishes are carried out and this can ease your worries. Having an advance directive also helps your family members.
What should this document include? According to an American Cancer Society article, “Types of Advance Directives,” it includes a living will, use of special equipment, such as a ventilator, feeding, hydration, pain management, durable power of attorney for health care, “Do Not Resuscitate” orders, and organ donation.
Is there a difference between aggressive medical treatment and refusing all medical care? Yes, and it’s a significant difference. Someone who doesn’t want aggressive medical treatment can still get antibiotics, pain medication, intravenous feeding, and other treatments.
Should you make comfort care a stipulation? Comfort care is just what the name implies. Healthcare providers will make you as comfortable as possible and administer medication as you near the end of life.
How do you make an advance directive? Formats are available from the Internet. Your health care provider should be able to provide information as well. If you don’t have a lawyer now is a good time to find one. He or she can help you create your personal directive.
Should you select a health care agent? According to Mayo Clinic, “Choosing a person to act as your health care agent is possibly the most important part of your planning.” This person should be someone you trust and respect. This person should also be able to deal with family members.
What about state regulations? Advance directives differ from state to state. You can find forms for your state on the National Hospice and Palliative Care website.
Once you’ve made an advance care directive are you done? Not really. Regulations may change and your opinions may change as well, so it’s a good idea to review your directive regularly.
What should you do with your directive? In a website article, “Advance Care Planning,” the National Institute on Aging says you should give copies to your doctor, family members, and health care proxy. The Institute also says it’s a good idea to carry a wallet card that says “I have an advance directive,” with your name, physician’s name, and his or her contact information.
For clear, easy-to-follow instructions on how to write your directive, you may wish to read My Voice, My Choice: A Practical Guide to Writing a Meaningful Healthcare Directive by Anne Elizabeth Denny. Her book is available here.
Copyright © by Harriet Hodgson
- Article by Harriet
Hodgson exclusively for Assisted Living Directory