Advanced Directives: Really Important For Any Age

Advanced Directives: Why Everyone Needs One

( – Everyone approaches end-of-life issues differently, and many adults have strong opinions about everything from resuscitation to organ and tissue donation. Unfortunately, a serious illness or injury can leave patients unable to express medical preferences at a hospital or assisted living facility.

Advance directives help loved ones honor your wishes during end-of-life care so you receive treatment aligned with your values. Whether you’re a busy parent balancing a career with family commitments or a golden-ager enjoying retirement, end-of-life events can happen to anyone at any age. You can help prepare for uncertainty by making your wishes known through an advanced directive.

1. Nobody Knows Your Wishes Better Than You

When a medical crisis arises, loved ones often struggle with selecting the right treatment plan. It’s difficult to guess someone else’s preferences, especially regarding controversial options, such as life-support systems and organ donation.

An advanced directive spells out exactly what you want in your plan of care. Some of the decisions you can specify in your advanced directive include whether you wish to:

  • Be resuscitated if your heart stops.
  • Receive a feeding tube if you are unable to eat or drink.
  • Undergo dialysis treatments in the event of kidney failure.
  • Be provided with a breathing machine if you are unable to breathe on your own.
  • Receive antibiotics in the event of an infection.

You can even set timelines for treatments, such as requesting that you remain on life support no longer than a few weeks.

2. Advanced Directives Help Decrease Treatment Delays

Some medical matters require immediate care, and your loved ones may not have time to debate potential treatments. An advanced directive helps ensure that you receive prompt medical attention, which is important if you need life-saving treatments, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation or dialysis.

To prevent treatment delays, appoint a trusted family member or friend as a durable medical power of attorney, sometimes known as a health care proxy or patient advocate, depending on your location. You can also upload a copy of your advanced directive to the U.S. Advance Care Plan Registry.

3. Limit Invasive Treatments That Impact Your Quality of Life

When someone develops a potentially life-threatening condition, they often need hospice or palliative care, also known as comfort care, for their final days. That may mean relaxing with a spouse while a home nurse addresses symptoms, receiving IV infusions of pain relief medications or letting ice chips soothe a parched mouth.

You can also opt out of treatments that some patients find unpleasant, such as tube feeding or dialysis. Some patients also consider the finances of their loved ones and request treatments that support comfort without dwindling away a spouse or child’s savings account.

We can’t prevent medical issues from striking, but we can control how we handle them. Ask your lawyer for help drafting an advanced directive that addresses your preferences.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!

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