Advance Directive Details

You can look at an advance directive as a living will or medical power of attorney. With an advance directive, your loved ones and health care team know who should make medical decisions or the medical care you prefer when you can't decide. An advance directive is helpful to anyone as it enables you to think ahead of emergencies about what kind of care you should receive. Advance directives are only meant for health care decisions and do not affect money or financial matters.

If you wish to avoid mistakes, you can talk to a lawyer or health care provider about filling out your advance directive when you are of sound mind and still healthy. The most popular types of advance directives are the durable power of attorney for health care and the living will. There are several formats for advance directives. Lawyers create some advance directives, and others follow forms outlined in state laws. Courts and state laws decide whether your advance directive documents are valid.

Laws surrounding advance directives differ from state to state. Be sure to confirm specific requirements of writing legal advance directives in the state where you reside. Before you fill out an advance directive, you will want to discuss with your loved ones, health care provider, and at least one individual who you'd like to be your proxy or agent (substitute decision-maker). Inform them about your situation, fears, and wishes, because your chosen people are the ones who will put your wishes into effect in the future.

Example of Advance Directives

If you have a medical condition that can leave you helpless at some point, you need to consider getting an advance directive.

For example, Mr. Nester has kidney problems and fears that he may be unable to make medical decisions if the kidney problem worsens. He discusses with a lawyer and decides to create an advance directive. To generate the advance directive, Mr. Nester goes through the many essential things that make an advance directive possible and legally binding.

Mr. Nester considers what equipment his doctor should use, such as ventilators (breathing machines) or dialysis machines (kidney function machines), to help keep him alive. He signs a Do Not Resuscitate Order, also known as a DNR, which is an instruction not to use lifesaving measures if his heartbeat or breathing stops. He considers whether or not to be fed liquid (by IV) or food (via a feeding tube into his stomach) if he can't eat or drink independently. After considering these and more vital requirements of an advance directive, Mr Nester lets his doctor and family know about his decisions. Mr. Nester also chooses his sister to be his proxy to carry out his wishes outlines in his advance directive. Now, if the worse happens, the doctor and Mr. Nester's family have information about how to care for him.