An advance medical directive helps explain what kind of care you want to have if you cannot speak on your own behalf due to an injury or illness. It is a good idea for any adult, no matter their age, to have an advance directive.
Whether you are young and healthy or older and in poor health, having an advance directive is a good idea. You’ll be at risk of having decisions made that you don’t agree with or have no say in if you don’t have one of these documents in place before you find yourself in an emergency where you can’t make your wishes known.
An advance directive and your power of attorney
It’s often a good idea to have your advance directive alongside a health care power of attorney designation. While you can simply state what your wishes are in medical emergencies, having someone you appoint to make decisions on your behalf can also be helpful.
A health care power of attorney makes decisions about your medical care only when you cannot make them yourself. Their power over making decisions ends once you can indicate your preferences and understand the implications of your decisions.
Make sure your wishes are known
If you’re over 18, it’s time to set up documents detailing your wishes and determining who will make decisions for you when you cannot. If you don’t have these in place, the medical team may make decisions based on the circumstances, not necessarily what you would have chosen for yourself. You can discuss topics like resuscitation, life support and the type of medical support you want when drafting these documents.