Advance Medical Directives
Every adult should have an advance medical directive in place. An advance medical directive is a legal document that memorializes your wishes for medical care, and the parameters that are acceptable to you.
Though an advance medical directive is one document, think of it as addressing three possible scenarios.
The first, if you are in an accident or become ill, and can’t make a decision regarding your medical care, you have memorialized what type of care, the level of care, and the places or locations in which that care can take place.
The second, in the event that you have a mental health challenge, you authorize an agent (your advocate) to admit you to a mental health facility for up to ten (10) days, even if you protest.
The third scenario, all within the same document, is used to set forth your end-of-life wishes, and the parameters for care that are acceptable to you. This is not a “one-size” fits all area. It is very important that prior to drafting your advance medical directive, your counsel listens closely to what is important to you regarding your end-of-life wishes. Utilize this section to establish what is acceptable to you when you are facing the end-of-life, and are not able to communicate such wishes. For example, there are some who have determined that if they have a terminal illness and are in a persistent vegetative state, they do not wish to be kept alive through the use of a mechanical apparatus. There are others, who wish to take part in any available trial study in the hopes that their symptoms will be reversed.
Within the same document, you give an individual, and successors, the legal authority to advocate your wishes and make decisions using the guidelines of your advance medical directive, when you do not have the mental ability to do so.
In addition to protecting your wishes for medical and end-of-life care, having an advance medical directive can provide a means of comfort to your loved ones when facing a difficult decision regarding your care. The advance medical directive gives them a roadmap, and in addition to providing legal authority to advocate and make decisions, it may remove the guilt that can accompany making a care related choice during a very difficult and emotional time.