While no one wants to think about end-of-life care and the difficult decisions that may possibly have to be made one day, it’s a very real subject. And one you shouldn’t avoid. It’s the conversation that is never too early to have. Whether you’re going in for a routine procedure or hospitalized because you’re severely sick, you should have an advance directive in place to ensure your voice is heard and your wishes are honored if something happens.
What is An Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that provides direction to what your wishes are regarding medical care in the event of any life-limiting acute or chronic illness. It goes into effect if you are unable to communicate your desired wishes.
There are two main advance directives for healthcare – the living will and the durable power of attorney for healthcare. Both are equally as important.
Living will – A living will is a legal document that informs your doctors how you want to be treated during an emergency situation if you’re unable to communicate those wishes. Within the living will, you can express your decisions on what medical treatments you may or may not want and under what specific conditions your decisions should apply.
Durable power of attorney for healthcare – A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a legal document that names a specific person who is allowed to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. Your proxy, also commonly referred to as a representative, surrogate, or agent, should be familiar with your values and wishes. You can choose a dual power of attorney in addition to or instead of a living will.
Who Should Complete an Advance Directive?
Simply put, everyone! Young, old, healthy, or sick, everyone should complete an advance directive. It’s also a good idea to review and update your completed advance directive routinely or after a significant life/health change. For example, patients who are currently on dialysis or have a cardiac defibrillator should include decisions on if and when they would like these health services stopped or deactivated.
Where Can I Get an Advance Directive?
Your VIPcare primary care provider can provide you with a copy of an advance directive and assist you in completing it. It is important and highly recommended that you get help from your provider. They understand the information needed to complete the paperwork correctly. Plus, they are familiar with your current healthcare needs and can help plan for what could potentially occur in the future. In addition, this also gives your provider insight and understanding of what your end-of-life wishes are.
What Should I Do with My Completed Advance Directive?
Once you have completed your advance directive, make sure to provide your physicians and healthcare agent with copies. You will want to give one to your primary care provider and all specialists you may have. Put your original document in a safe place and let your durable power of attorney for healthcare know where to find it if ever needed. Also, be sure to bring a copy of it to any medical procedures you have.
No, it’s not a fun topic, but it’s a very important one. An advance directive will not only give you peace of mind but also your family knowing that they are doing the right thing if and when the time comes. Don’t wait. Ask your VIPcare provider today for information on completing your advance directive. Call 866-926-3831 for more info.