Advanced Directives

#GreatfulMMS  With COVID-19 on the rise and many other illnesses occurring there are many decisions that must be made.
So, let’s talk about advanced directives. There are many questions you may have about advanced
directives and I’m going to do my best to help you answer some of those questions.
Let’s jump right in.

What is an advanced directive?
An advanced directive is usually a document(s) that explains the wishes of an individual for end of life
care. This may include but is not limited to a living will which usually incorporates choices for artificial
nutrition and preferences on intubation and ventilation, as well as power of attorney designation. It
also may or may not include preferences for palliative care. The intent of advanced directives is to allow
the designated person or people to carry out an individual’s wishes in the event that they are unable to
express those wishes themselves.
Advance directives may also include at what point they become valid. For instance, a person that may
have suffered a stroke and is unable to communicate or process information may designate a person
that should make decisions on their behalf in the event they are unable to make decisions for
When is the best time to create an advanced directive?
The best times to complete an advanced directive is when the person is able to understand and clearly
communicate their wishes at a non- emergent time. This allows the person to have time to think and
figure out what they believe would give them the best quality or quantity of life. Many people have
different view points. Some would like to live as long as possible no matter what and others may want
to enjoy life. When they feel like they are no longer enjoying life they may want to pass in peace.
Why are advanced directives helpful?
Advanced directives allow all involved in caring for an individual to clearly understand, as much as
possible, the individual’s wishes for care in different situations. It also allows family members to be
better united when it is laid out in writing, versus many opinions trying to make a decision. It gives
family members peace instead of the guilt of wondering if they made the correct choice or not for a
loved one. It also helps to reduce arguing between family members on the correct choice to make for
their loved one.
What happens if an advanced directive is not available?
Hopefully, there is a designated individual that can act with substituted judgement. This means an
individual will try their best to make decisions based on what the person would have wanted them to
do. For example, a mother tells her son, no matter what do not ever give me a feeding tube. Well, if
ever there is a time when a medical professional offers feeding tube placement, the son would be using
“substituted judgement” and decline the feeding tube.
How can I obtain an advanced directive?
There are different options for advanced directives. Certainly, they can be obtained through an
attorney. However, usually this is not a requirement. There are templates online. Additionally, some
people create their own. Each state has different requirements as to what would be required for an
advanced directive to be valid. Some may require signature from witnesses, a notary, or again through
an attorney.
How long is an advanced directive good?
There is usually not an expiration on an advanced directive unless it is specified in the document.
However, because over time things may change ie. Marriage, divorce, death of designated individual
listed in the document to make decisions, etc. You may want to update your advanced directive
It is key to note that advanced directives are documents to guide health care and not financial affairs.
Here is a link for a basic advanced directive
Of course, there are lots of others to choose from. Hope this will help someone to be prepared.

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