An advance directive is a set of written instructions that specify the actions that should be medically taken if the individual can no longer make decisions themselves due to incapacity or illness. Similar to a medical power of attorney or a living will, advance directives are designed to give guidance to medical professionals if the patient should happen to slip into a condition of incapacity without the likelihood of complete recovery.
Because of the ever increasing sophistication of technology and aggressive medical intervention, many individuals are living through illnesses that were once terminal. The issue is that many of these individuals are medically maintained in very frail condition and can only be kept alive via medical assistance. Many of these individuals experience constant pain and must be kept medicated, which takes a toll physically and mentally on the patient as well as their families.
Advanced health care directives were created to give patients options to refuse aggressive medical intervention if there was a high probability that life would be sustained only with medical assistance.
Advance directives allow people to dictate how they want their end of life decisions to be made. While some people utilize a medical power of attorney for these decisions, advance directives act in a similar capacity for those who do not have or wish to appoint someone to act on their behalf.
Advance directives give specific instructions to medical providers, especially in terms of what to do if the individual should require life-sustaining intervention. This effectively removes loved ones who might be acting in a medical power of attorney capacity from having to make a difficult decision regarding a Do Not Resuscitate order.
Making the decision to take a loved one off life support is one of the most difficult decisions a person can make, but predetermined advance directive decisions help to mitigate this difficult time by removing a family member from having to make that decision.
Planning for end of life scenarios is not something most people want to think of on an everyday basis, but having a plan in place in case some unforeseen event occurs is a responsible step family members should take.
Written instructions on how each person wants to address medical incapacity or terminal illness helps to take the burden of making those decisions away from loved ones who will be dealing with their own grief during a trying time.
Advance directives ensure that a person's final wishes will be fulfilled without having to rely on anyone else to make those difficult decisions for them.
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