Imagine a situation when you are too injured or sick and are unable to express your healthcare wishes. You will certainly need someone who will be able to make those decisions on your behalf and provide the needed care. This is where you need an advance healthcare directive. Fundamentally, it is an important legal document that lets you express all your end-of-life healthcare wishes before any unexpected event occurs.
An advance healthcare directive is made up of two parts:
- Healthcare proxy: This is the most crucial section where you name an agent. Your agent should be a person(s) whom you can trust and can represent you in the execution of your wishes when an unexpected event, such as your sickness or injury, renders you incapable of making decisions. This person(s) is called your healthcare power of attorney (POA).
- Living Will: The second part of your advance healthcare directive is the living will. This part lets you express your thoughts about the care that is intended to prolong your life. You can choose to either accept or refuse medical care commonly related to resuscitation, dialysis, tube feedings, and breathing machines. It is also possible to express your wishes when it comes to organ and tissue donation. It is usually difficult to fill this part of the advance directive form because it causes individuals to reflect on their core beliefs and values on their end-of-life treatment. This section of the advance directive may evoke difficult emotions—something in which people have to deal with maturity and pragmatism.
Once you have completed your advance healthcare directive, you have to make it legal by getting it notarized or signed by any two witnesses besides your healthcare proxy. Once your directive becomes legal, you need to give a copy of it to your medical practitioner, healthcare proxy, and family.
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