An Advance Directive is a fancy term used to describe legal papers. These papers let you write instructions for others to follow about your medical future. Don't confuse these papers with the legal document called a WILL. This paper has to do with finances and property. They are not the same!
Advance Directives give you the right to decide whether to accept treatment that might extend your life artificially. Advance Directives can help your family and friends, by relieving them of the stress of making difficult decisions for you. If you make your wishes known, they can accept your condition and the care you are getting, knowing what you wanted.
Advanced Directives can be very helpful for your health care provider. Knowing what you want ahead of time may make difficult treatment choices easier to make later on.
Advanced Directives are made while you are able to make informed decisions about your health care. Don't wait until you are too sick to think clearly about these very important decisions.
There are two common types of Advance Directives they are Health Care Surrogate and Living Will.
Health Care Surrogate:
In this written document, you can choose a person to make decisions for you in case you can't. These decisions involve medical treatments; not financial or other legal decisions.
Making this choice is very important. Most people choose someone who knows them well and will respect and honor their wishes. You can also choose a second person in case your first choice is unavailable or unable to make decisions for you when the time comes.
This document is a written statement with instructions about what type of healthcare you want at the end of life. You must be 18 years of age or older and of sound mind to make a living will. Making a living will doesn't mean you won't get the care you need. This is a chance to make your wishes known. Be specific as you can so there is no misunderstanding of what you want.
Living wills cover specific areas such as whether or not you want:
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in case your heart or breathing stops
Intravenous (IV) fluids, food and medications
Feeding tubes-put down your nose or into your stomach
Respirators-the machines that help you to breath if you can’t
Anything else that may be important to you
You have the right to accept or refuse any medical treatment
You have the right to complete a durable power of attorney for health care
You have the right to complete a living will
If you have an advance directive, it’s important to provide a copy for your health record. You should also provide copies to family members or close friends to communicate your preferences.
Consider an Advance Directive in your health care planning.
Know your rights
Fill out and go over your Advance Directive carefully
Talk about your wishes with your family and doctor
Express your wishes clearly
If you need help in making out an Advance Directive or would like to know more, ask your social worker or one of the health care team members for their help. He or she can talk about Advance Directives with you and help you fill out the forms. It’s also good to carry a notice with you at all times letting people know you have filed an Advance Directive.
Advanced Directive Form and Advanced Directive cut-out Cards: