Saturday, January 7, 2017

4 Things You Need To Know About Advanced Directives

It is a sad truth that death is an inevitable part of life. And, even though many of us are reluctant to face this fact, it is no excuse to fail to plan for your end-of-life healthcare, particularly if you are past retirement age. Although it may be scary to think about your end-of-life decisions, it can greatly improve the quality of life for your family after you are gone, and will reduce the chance your passing is a burden on your family. Advanced directives offer you the assurance that your last wishes will be fulfilled. Here are four things to know about them.

1. What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An advanced directive is a generic term for a legal document that describes to and instructs others about your medical care, in the event you are unable to make your decisions known. A directive only becomes effective under circumstances described in the document, but in general allow you to do two things. The first is to appoint a health care agent or power of attorney. This person will make decisions on your behalf. Secondly, the directive will provide instructions about exactly what forms of health care you want and do not want.

2. Why Are Advanced Directives Important?

According to recent surveys, the majority of people would prefer to die in their own homes. However, many terminally-ill patients meet the end of their life while in the hospital, typically while receiving ineffective treatments that they may or may not really want. Occasionally, this confusion can cause conflict between the surviving members of the family, leading to fights and arguments. Meanwhile, the dying person's thoughts and wishes remain unexpressed. An advanced care directive prevents all of this. From documenting the treatments you want, to describing your wishes for your remains and personal effects, advanced care planning is highly beneficial.

3. Creating an Advanced Care Directive

An advanced care directive and living will does not have to be complicated, however the content may be complex and should be considered carefully. In general, it will consist of short, simple statements about what types of treatments you would accept or deny, given particular circumstances where you are unable to speak for yourself. It is important to create this document with the help and guidance of your family, legal, health, and financial professionals for maximum effectiveness.

4. Talking With Your Loved Ones About Your Choices

A vital step in advanced care planning is to clearly communicate your wishes to your loved ones and family about your decisions, and why you are making them. For most of us, this conversation can seem like a daunting task. You may be uncomfortable bringing up your own death with your loved ones, or it may seem like poor timing to have that conversation, but it is much better to have this conversation now, before there's a problem, so that everyone can remain calm and relaxed.

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