An advance directive is a legal document that outlines your healthcare wishes. If you are ever unable to speak for yourself or make your own medical decisions, your family and doctors will follow your advance directive.

“Even if you can’t participate in the conversation, this ensures that you choose the care plan that is best for you.”

If your health situation changes, you can change your advance directive. Do not resuscitate orders, preferences for hospital and home care, and more can be included in advance directives.

The best time to make an advance directive, what it is and how to start the drafting process are some of the things we will learn.

It is better to not wait and set up an advance directive than to think of it as something that happened in later years.

Advance directives are highly recommended for adults managing chronic health conditions, including mental or behavioral health conditions, but they’re a good idea for all adults.

While we may all hope to remain healthy as we get older, a medical emergency that leaves you unable to make your own healthcare decisions could happen at any time. An advance directive helps you prepare.

An advance directive includes two primary documents that will help you get the best healthcare even when you’re unable to make your own decisions. The parts of an advance directive are detailed below:

  • Living will. A living will lets your family and any medical professionals treating you know which life-sustaining or lifesaving medical services you want to receive. It only goes into effect if certain criteria are met. The living will may include medical services like:
  • Healthcare power of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney, sometimes called a healthcare proxy, is a family or other trusted person you select to make medical decisions for you and speak on your behalf. The power of attorney document gives the person you select this authority and allows you to write out directions.

“Each state has its own laws. You can use a lawyer or estate planner to help you create an advance directive, but you don’t have to. Many people choose to make their own advance directives.”

If you sign your advance directive with two adult witnesses or a notary, it will be binding.

“You can find forms online. If you don’t have a printer, local libraries, senior centers, and legal services centers can often provide free forms.”

You can check the guide to see the requirements in your state.

DNR stands for “do not resuscitate.” A DNR order is a document that tells doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical professionals that you do not want CPR or other lifesaving measures performed if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. That might sound a lot like a living will, but there are some differences.

A physician signs off on a DNR. The order is a medical one. It tells emergency medical personnel not to give life-saving care.

“Paramedics and other first responders will always try to save a person’s life when responding to a heart attack without a DNR.”

If you need intubation, you should give a living willing detail about the medical care you want or do not want.

“You can make a part of your advance directive. Talk to your doctor about establishing a DNR. They sign off on the form so that you can add it to your advance directive. A doctor’s signature is needed to make a DNR official.”

An advance directive can help you in the event of a health emergency and can help you get the right medical care.

You can make choices now, while the instructions in the advance directive are still in place. If you are unable to make your own medical decisions, there is a legally binding document that you can use.

“You can give the power of attorney to someone when you can’t make your own decisions.”

If you want to choose comfort care, such as pain medication, you can use the documents in an advance directive. Some people add a order.

Each state has its own rules and regulations. Check out the rules in your state and get an advance directive set up. If an emergency ever arises, having a document in place will ensure you are prepared.