There are two types of advance directives for healthcare, living wills and durable power of attorney. Both kinds of advance directives can help free your family from the responsibility and stress of making difficult decisions without you.
Living wills, also known as “medical directives” or “healthcare declarations,” are written instructions that explain your wishes for healthcare in the event you can’t communicate as a result of a terminal condition or irreversible coma.
By preparing your living will before the often intense, emotional times experienced when facing end-of-life issues, you offer those closest to you relief from the burden and stress of trying to guess what your wishes might be.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
Durable power of attorney for healthcare, also known as “healthcare proxy” or “appointment of a healthcare agent,” lets you name a person to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so. Make sure the person you choose clearly understands your values and beliefs, and is willing and able to speak out on your behalf.
Keep the original living will and durable power of attorney documents in a safe and easily accessible place, and make an extra copy for yourself in case the original is lost or accidentally destroyed. Give copies to your doctor, family members and close friends.
You can change or cancel the forms at any time. However, please remember if no one knows about your advance directives when the need arises, the risk of not being treated as you wish increases significantly. Also, try to remember to take these documents with you if you are admitted to the hospital.