For all of us, especially those of us in our advancing years, now is a good time to confirm whether you, and all of your family members, have an Advance Directive ready to help with crucial medical decisions. In your older years, you may experience a debilitating illness or an accident that incapacitates you, making you unable to communicate your health care decisions. This is where Advance Directives can make a difference. As Forbes explains, Advance Directives are ways for you to keep control over your health care choices in the event you cannot relay your health care wishes to your doctors. Advance Directives can take different forms.

Composing a Living Will

A Living Will is a document you can create to describe what kinds of medical treatments you want to sustain your life, as well as those you don’t want should you ever suffer from a terminal condition or be in a state of permanent unconsciousness. You may want your doctors to do all they can to keep you alive even if you experience a great deal of pain as a result of the treatment. You can specify that your doctors should use anything from tube feeding to a ventilator to sustain your life. Conversely, you may not want to receive life-sustaining treatment if it means you are in serious pain or if you are in a coma with no realistic hope of regaining consciousness. You can explain what treatments you want, how much of a treatment you want, and under what conditions doctors should stop treating you.

Assigning a power of attorney (i.e. “agent”)

A power of attorney, now known as Agent, is somebody you name to make your medical decisions for you in the event you suffer incapacitation. Since you may not anticipate every medical situation that could happen in your Living Will, appointing a power of attorney can help cover all your bases. You want to consider your power of attorney choice with great care. You want somebody you can trust to carry out your medical wishes. The person should have your best interests at heart, but should also be somebody who respects your judgment.

Using directives together

You do not have to limit yourself to either a Living Will or a Power of Attorney. You may decide to utilize both options. You can create a Living Will to guide your agent to make your healthcare decisions. And if you worry about delegating too much authority to a power of attorney, you can assign someone the powers of a healthcare power of attorney while reserving financial decision making powers for a different person.

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