An Advance Directive tells your doctor what kind of care you want to receive in the event that you are unable to make that decision for yourself. An example of this would be Mary Smith, who was a vivacious 78 year old until seized by a sudden stroke that left her in a coma. Unable to personally communicate her medical wishes, her Advanced Directives spoke on her behalf.
An Advanced Directive includes three things:
1. A Living Will: A Living Will only applies to artificial life support, including CPR, feeding tubes, etc., and only goes into effect when your condition is deemed terminal.
2. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or Medical Durable Power of Attorney, designates an agent to speak on your behalf and goes into effect as soon as you become incapacitated. It applies to a range of medical and surgical treatments and decisions.
3. A Do Not Resuscitate order: A Do Not Resuscitate order, or DNR, refuses CPR.
If you haven’t already gotten these documents in order, our Care Coordinator will gently encourage you to do so. She will first suggest a family meeting to discuss these issues so you may clearly understand your loved ones desires.
There are also helpful online tools, such as the Five Wishes Advance Directive, to aid you in tactfully discussing this subject with a loved one. Five Wishes is valid in some states for use as a legal document. I will discuss the Five Wishes Advance Directive more fully in my next post.
In the meantime, here are some good websites to help you understand more on Advance Directives:
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