Two answers: Yes, you do need one. And, read on… to find out what’s an advanced directive.
An advanced directive is a legal document that spells out how YOU want to be cared for if you are unable to make those decisions. Some examples of advanced directives are a
- living will (a list of treatments you’d like if needed) and
- durable power of attorney (WHO you designate to make those medical decisions for you).
Here in Wichita, Kansas, Health Ethics leads seminars discussing the intricacies of each of the documents free of charge. You can also get information at www.caringinfo.org or http://familydoctor.org/003.xml .
I tell my patients when I turned 30 (and was expecting our first child), my husband and I had “the talk.” We discussed what we each want done– if we were unable to make those decisions ourselves. It made it easier, I think, because we’re in good health. This was just one piece of the puzzle in becoming parents for us.
Be specific with your wishes. Do you want CPR? Do you want to be on a ventilator? If so, for how long? If your heart stops, would you like medication in your vein to try to jump-start your heart? If you are mentally incapacitated indefinitely, would you like to live in a nursing home where others care for your daily needs?
Try to emphasize to your durable power of attorney what is most important to you in a variety of situations. You need ONE durable power of attorney. If you have more than one, they may disagree with your wishes. . . and, in those cases, usually the patient has more treatment (more invasive, more long-term care) done which may leave you in a situation you planned to NOT have.
Once the advanced directive is completed and signed, it can be changed or canceled at any time. Please discuss your wishes with your doctor and family.
Start the conversation.