Advance directives are written instructions that document your wishes regarding medical treatment. They contain information about the medical care you would want or not want if you were to face a medical situation and were unable to speak for yourself. While creating your advance directive it is also wise to designate your Healthcare Proxy or Spokesperson.
Advance directives are essential, not only because they explain your wishes, but for many other reasons:
1) Advance directives help to prepare you for end-of-life medical decisions and situations often ignored
When you complete a properly executed advance directive through a program like My Living Voice you not only clearly express your goals and wishes but you also educate yourself on common terms and walk-through possible scenarios that you or your Healthcare Proxy may be faced with. This education is invaluable to you, your proxy, and your medical team to be able to accurately care for you according to what you value most in life.
2) Advance directives prepare YOU for the conversation with the doctor and loved ones.
Advance directives can also promote communication and help you to have an informed direct discussion with your healthcare provider. It pulls together your values and wishes, and helps your loved ones and doctors to understand key issues that need to be addressed in advance care planning.
It prepares you to have a conversation that is informed with your doctor(s) so when you have this discussion it is a 2-way street and you both are prepared to have a conversation that will result in a shared understanding to what is important to you and what the physician should do.
3) Advance directives can give you peace of mind.
During a medical crisis, it’s a huge burden having to guess what medical treatment someone else would want. Advance directives will help you clarify your goals and wishes and force you to think through your values and what is most important to you. You’ll proactively think about the type of care and treatment you would want during an emotionally and physically demanding time so that the burden is taken off of your doctors and loved ones from making those decisions for you. This will give you the peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be saved from the agony of knowing if the choices they made would have been what you would have wanted.
Do your Healthcare Proxy and medical team a favor and create your advance directive NOW. Advance directives explain your wishes for medical care and provide your spokesperson and doctors guidance for how to make medical decisions when you cannot. It can be challenging to take care of a seriously ill person who has not communicated their wishes in advance. With properly executed advance directives you can document what matters to you and how it should apply to medical decisions in the event you cannot speak for yourself.