Health & Fitness

What is a Health Care Directive?

A health care directive (commonly referred to as a living will or durable power of attorney for health care) is a written document that indicates who should speak on your behalf if you become incapable of making decisions on your own, while also outlining any personal preferences regarding medical treatment or management.

A document that tells your doctor and other health care providers what you want in a specific situation.

Health care directives allow you to document and communicate your preferences for medical treatment in situations when you might not be able to communicate them yourself, while designating someone (an agent) who will make decisions on your behalf. While communicating your preferences directly is still best practice, documenting them may prove even more effective as it provides everyone involved with a clear record of your wishes.

Although many people think an advance directive only applies in end-of-life circumstances, a health care directive can serve to safeguard you in any circumstance in which you cannot speak for yourself. For instance, it can help your physician understand what treatment would best suit your wishes if you become permanently unconscious due to an accident or serious illness; and may help your family avoid potentially costly legal battles regarding your medical care if there are disagreements over its provision.

No attorney is needed to prepare a health care directive; however, consulting one could help ensure your document is clearly written and in compliance with state laws. Some states may require witnesses or other specific signing formalities before an advance directive becomes valid; additionally, your lawyer could assist with smoothing out any inconsistencies between requests if any arise.

A document that tells your doctor and other health care providers what you don’t want in a specific situation.

Although you may think you know your preferences, making an advance directives document and sharing it with family and others is the only surefire way to ensure they will be honored should you become incapacitated and cannot express them yourself. This process is known as advance directives.

An advance directive can be easily created on your own using either a form provided by your state or a template provided by an independent third-party service, but for greater peace of mind it is advisable to seek legal advice to make sure the documents you create comply with state laws and requirements.

An advanced health care directive is vitally important for all adults, but especially so for seniors. A directive gives your primary caregiver, family, and friends peace of mind in knowing they are carrying out your wishes.

No one likes discussing end-of-life decisions with others, yet having conversations now about end-of-life choices may help your loved ones understand your preferences better and lessen any burden if a difficult situation should ever arise. Furthermore, having your advance directives in place could spare your doctor and providers from having to try and guess your wishes should you fall into a coma or become critically ill without prior understanding of their medical condition.

A document that tells your doctor and other health care providers what you do want in a specific situation.

Health care directives are legal documents designed to inform doctors and other healthcare providers what medical treatments you would like or don’t want should you become terminally ill or persistent vegetative state, among other circumstances. They can also express other decisions, such as do not resuscitate (DNR) orders and organ and tissue donation instructions.

If you become seriously ill or injured, doctors and other health care providers may find it impossible to communicate effectively with you, leading them to misunderstand what your wishes are or disagree on what should happen next. A health care directive is one way of helping avoid these issues by making your preferences known to those making decisions for you.

When creating a health care directive, it’s important to communicate it to family and friends so they understand your intentions. You should also notify them who has been chosen as your agent, where the documents are kept, as well as any updates. Keeping copies up-to-date involves discussing them regularly with physicians and other health care providers so they have copies.