An advance directive is an essential step in making sure end-of-life requests are met. Sometimes called a healthcare power of attorney or living will, an advance directive is simply a statement in writing that acts as a guide for medical personnel, so they know what type of care to give in the event a patient becomes cognitively incapacitated.
Having An Advance Directive Isn’t Always Enough
Approximately 26 percent of people in the United States have written an advance directive. If you are among this percentage of people, that is great news. However, just having an advance directive is not a guarantee your wishes will be carried out.
Seven Steps To Improve Your Advance Directive
Our organization has come up with seven tips to make sure your advance directive is executed per your specifications.
- Ask your doctor if your medical records show that you have an advance directive on file. Make sure your records indicate where a copy can be located.
- Find a healthcare surrogate who is assertive enough to speak on your behalf. Each time you need to go to a new healthcare provider, medical facility or hospital, make sure your advance directive is on file.
- In order to gain a complete perspective on your end-of-life choices, take some time to learn more about life-sustaining treatments and resuscitation.
- Make sure your advance directive is updated each year. It is common for people to change their minds with the passing of time in regards to their end-of-life wishes.
- Put your advance directive in a place that is easy to locate. A copy should be not only kept at home, but also given to your close friends, family and healthcare surrogate. There are even websites and apps that let you store your advance directive on the internet for 24-hour availability. Be sure to replace your advance directive in all locations each time you make any changes to it.
- Share the advance directive with your close friends, family and surrogate, so they can understand the thought process behind your wishes.
- Talk to your all of your physicians, including specialists, and healthcare team members about your advance directive.
The Purpose of Any Advance Directive
The purpose of any advance directive is to make sure those you trust and love understand exactly what you want in the event you are unable to make your wishes known. It is possible that a doctor of family member can go against the requests in your advance directive by stating he knows best. To prevent this from occurring, be sure everyone in your life is clear that an advance directive is a decision made when you are mentally sound; therefore, you expect the advance directive to be carried out.