An advance medical directive is a planning tool for future medical complications. The directive is a legal document that explains how you want others to handle your medical decisions when you cannot make those decisions yourself.
Advance directives are not just for the elderly. End-of-life situations can happen to almost anyone at any age.
Different medical directives
Medical directives fall into three categories.
- Power of attorney
A medical power of attorney allows you to name a person to make decisions if you cannot do so. You should choose a person who will determine the best care for you based on what you want.
- Living will
A living will spells out the medical treatments you would or would not want to keep you alive. These include:
- Tube feeding
- Comfort care
You can specify if you want to donate your body for scientific research or have your organs donated.
- Do not resuscitate
A DNR conveys to your doctors that you do not want CPR if your breathing or heart stops. They will make a note of this in your medical record.
Medical directive changes
You may change your directives. Consider reviewing your current advance directive and update them as changes occur, which could include a new diagnosis or a change of marital status. Over time, your living circumstances may alter. Amend the directive about every 10 years.
The advance medical directive only applies to medical decisions and does not affect financial or money issues. Health care facilities and doctors cannot require you to make a directive. It is your choice.