Make the challenging decisions now so our loved ones don’t have to.
Planning in advance will save the ones we leave behind with less stress and anguish to deal with. More so, it’s not just passing away that creates challenges but also the unfortunate state of incapacity.
Advanced Health Care Directive
What is it exactly? An Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) is a generic term for a document that instructs others about your medical care should you be unable to make decisions on your own. It only becomes effective under the circumstances delineated in the document, and allows you to do either or both of the following:
Appoint a health care agent. The AHCD allows you to appoint a health care agent (also known as “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care,” “Health Care Proxy,” or “attorney-in-fact”), who will have the legal authority to make health care decisions for you if you are no longer able to speak for yourself. This is typically a spouse, but can be another family member, close friend, or anyone else you feel will see that your wishes and expectations are met. The individual named will have authority to make decisions regarding artificial nutrition and hydration and any other measures that prolong life—or not.
Prepare instructions for health care. The AHCD allows you to make specific written instructions for your future health care in the event of any situation in which you can no longer speak for yourself. Otherwise known as a “Living Will,” it outlines your wishes about life-sustaining medical treatment if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious, for example.
What’re the benefits? The Advance Health Care Directive provides a clear statement of wishes about your choice to prolong your life or to withhold or withdraw treatment. You can also choose to request relief from pain even if doing so hastens death. A standard advance directive form provides room to state additional wishes and directions and allows you to leave instructions about organ donations.
While most people would prefer to die in their own homes, the norm is still for terminally-ill patients to die in the hospital, often receiving ineffective treatments that they may not really want. Their friends and family members can become embroiled in bitter arguments about the best way to care for the patient and consequently miss sharing the final stage of life with their loved one. Also, the opinions and wishes of the dying person are often lost in all the chaos.