top of page
Advanced Directive

Advanced Directive

An advanced directive is a set of legal documents that allow an individual to control some of the medical decisions that will be made on their behalf in the future, should they become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. Without an advanced directive, a doctor or hospital's decisions may be based on their perspective of what is in the incapacitated individual's best interests, which may allocate limited medical resources to them that could have been used for other purposes. Advanced directives allow individuals to express their "right to refuse or choose a specific medical treatment or procedure provided by the healthcare system." They fall into two categories: living wills and durable power of attorney for health care. A living will is a document a person uses to explain or express what kind of medical care they should have should they become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney for health care entitles someone else to make medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. An advanced directive is an important planning tool for all adults regardless of age, as least as far as peace of mind is concerned. It is essential for providing direction and guidance to family, friends, and medical professionals, and thus allows people to remain in control of their life and medical care even if they are physically or cognitively incapacitated.

An advance directive, otherwise known as a living will, is a document in which an individual expresses their wishes regarding critical healthcare decisions if they cannot do so due to an illness or injury. On the record, the individual can state if they do or don't want life-prolonging treatments and advance medical directives such as their preferences concerning artificial nutrition and hydration, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and organ donation. This service provides peace of mind and autonomy to those seriously ill or injured, who can have a say in their care when they cannot do so themselves. Furthermore, advance directives can help alleviate some guilt and burden that loved ones felt should they have made such decisions without knowing the individual's wishes. Lastly, these directives ensure that an individual's wishes are followed even if they are unconscious or too ill to express their wishes to family or doctors.

An advanced directive outlines an individual's wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care if they cannot make decisions due to illness or incapacity. Individuals need to create an advanced directive while they are still of sound mind and body, as it allows them to communicate their preferences and reduces the burden on loved ones who may be left to make difficult decisions on their behalf. Advanced directives can specify a wide range of instructions, including preferences for life-sustaining treatments, organ donation, and arrangements for funeral services. In some cases, advanced directives may also designate a healthcare proxy or surrogate decision-maker to ensure the individual's wishes are upheld. Overall, creating an advanced directive is a proactive step towards ensuring that an individual's end-of-life wishes are respected, and their values and beliefs are honored. An advanced directive will detail what type of medical treatment a person wishes to receive and what actions should be taken in case of an accident or illness that leaves them unable to make those choices.

Advanced directives generally allow people to make decisions about their care while still well enough to do so. This includes setting out any preferences for the type of medical care they would like to receive in the event of a severe medical condition or if they are hindered in any way. This includes instructions about any treatments they would or wouldn't prefer, such as types of medication or care, as well as any decisions they would like to make about life support or end-of-life care. Having an advanced directive ensures that a person's wishes are followed in any medical situation and that their preferences are respected.

Advanced directives can be created and signed by anyone over the age of 18, and they are typically kept in a healthcare file or with an attorney. Depending on state laws, advance directives may require witnesses or a notary public to ensure the document is legally binding. People must keep their advanced directives up to date should their wishes regarding medical care change, so they can be assured that their choices will be honored. Advanced directives are an important way for people to ensure that their wishes are respected in the event of a serious accident or medical condition and that their family is not asked to make estimated decisions on their behalf. At the same time, they are unable to do so. People need to create an advanced directive so they can be assured that their decisions and preferences are respected.

bottom of page