Advanced Care Directives
Have you thought about what you want to happen to you if you are in a situation where someone else has to make decisions on you behalf? What are advanced care directives?
“The term advance directive describes two types of legal documents that enable you to plan for and communicate your end-of-life wishes in the event that you are unable to communicate:
- A living will allows you to document your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life.
- A medical power of attorney (or health care proxy) allows you to appoint a person you trust as your health care agent (or surrogate decision maker), who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf.”
This is important to think about but very few of us take the time. It can be scary and depressing. But in the long run it is even scarier not to think about! In the United States the documentation can be state specific and this is a good resource.
More excellent links can be found at the MEDLINEPlus site.
Please take the time to think about it, for all of us.
English law is a little different from the law in the US; this is from the NHS:
Suppose, for example, you are unconscious after a road accident or cannot communicate after a severe stroke, in general people providing health care can still give you treatment that they believe is in your best interests. The only exception is if you have clearly refused a particular treatment in advance. [with a living will]
Although no-one (not even husbands, wives, partners or close relatives) can give consent to treatment on behalf of another adult, friends and relatives may have useful advice to give. They may be able to tell health care professionals about the person’s beliefs and values – for example whether they have accepted or refused certain kinds of treatment in the past or have strong views on some health questions. So it is important to discuss your views with your friends and relatives in case anything happens. ”
The NHS also has a very good and short introduction to thinking about death and how to prepare for situations where we may be near death and unable to act. I would recommend that everyone read it too!
“Most of us avoid the subject of death – it isn’t generally considered to be polite conversation and it certainly can dampen the mood. Plus, most of us think that we still have plenty of time, and prefer to cross that bridge when we come to it. But, a bit of planning and communication with your loved ones now, could mean avoiding a lot of heartache for them later.
What makes a ‘good’ death?
Is the idea of a ‘good’ death a contradiction in terms? To answer that, try thinking about your idea of a bad death. Would it include pain, confusion, discomfort, loneliness, and inability to communicate your wishes? Well, you could help to avoid all of those things by planning a little now, whether you are ill or not, and whatever your age.”