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Advance Directives - For Yourself and Your Family

Advance Healthcare Directives are a very important, yet often overlooked, step in planning for your future. Especially for the elderly and those with serious diseases, an advance healthcare directive can give both you and your loved ones peace of mind. If you are looking at estate planning, such as the creation of a will, take the time to ask about setting up an advance healthcare directive as well.

A living will is the best way to spell out your wishes in the event of an accident or change in health. The living will is a legal document that specifically lays out the extent to which doctors may go to save your life. For example, would you want doctors to take any and all life-saving measures? If you could live only via a feeding tube, would you wish to remain under care?

Living wills are important because they specifically lay out your desires. Without a living will, family members may be forced to make the impossible decision of whether or not you would want to be saved. In the end, the decision should be yours.

It is, however, important to discuss your advance healthcare directive with those close to you. While you may not feel the need to seek approval for your decisions, for peace of mind, it is best that your family be made aware of your directive and your reasoning. In many cases, this will make it easier for them to live with your decision if and when the time comes.

Other types of advance care directives are:

  • Setting up a medical power of attorney - someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself. This should be someone you trust completely, whether this person a family member or friend is not important.
  • You may also request that you are not resuscitated should you stop breathing. This request is called DNR, for "Do Not Resuscitate."

Advance healthcare directives are not the most pleasant thing to think about, but can save much pain in the end. Like packing a first aid kit, you hope you won't need it, but it is available if you do.

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