What do advance directives mean?

What kind of medical care would you want to receive if you were too sick or hurt to express your wishes? Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to explain your decisions about end-of-life care in advance. They give you a way to express your wishes to family, friends and health professionals and avoid confusion later on. A power of attorney for medical or medical care is a type of advance directive in which you name a person to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. In some states, this directive may also be referred to as a permanent power of attorney for health care or power of attorney for health care.

A living will tells your healthcare professional if you want procedures to delay death if you have a terminal condition and are unable to express your wishes. A living will, unlike a power of attorney for health care, only applies if you have a terminal condition. A terminal condition means an incurable and irreversible condition such that death is imminent and the application of any procedure that delays death serves only to prolong the death process. If you store your advance directives in a registry and then make changes, you must replace the original with the updated version in the registry.

To avoid limitations in making decisions for a health care substitute, you may want to consider having one or more advance directives. You also have tips for selecting your health care agent and preparing and storing your advance directives. An advance directive allows you to give directions for these types of situations and then change them as you age or if your point of view changes. In emergency situations where a patient is unable to participate in treatment decisions and there are no substitute or advance directives available to guide decisions, physicians should provide medically appropriate interventions when urgently needed to meet clinical needs immediate patient.

For patients who lack decision-making capacity, these values are met through third-party decision-making and the use of advance directives. An advance directive never takes precedence over the contemporary wishes of a patient who has the capacity to make decisions. There are two main elements in an advance directive: a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. Advance directives guide options for doctors and caregivers if you have a terminal illness, a serious injury, are in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.

If that's your situation, consider preparing an advance directive using forms for each state and also keep a copy at each location. You may want to make a card to carry in your wallet stating that you have an advance directive and where it is kept. A POLST also indicates what advance directives you have created and who acts as your health care agent. Advance directives are used to guide your health care team and loved ones when they need to make these decisions or to decide who will make decisions for you when you are unable to do so.

You can also prepare documents to express your wishes on a single medical topic or something that is not yet covered in your advance directive. Advance directives also allow patients to identify who they want to make decisions on their behalf when they are unable to do so on their own.

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