Advance Health Care Directives and Living Wills

What is an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD)?

 

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. Someone thatyou 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.

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.

Taken from: http://www.helpguide.org/elder/advance_directive_end_of_life_care.htm

When to Reassess Your Advance Health Care Directive

 

Re-examine your health care wishes every few years or whenever any of the “Five D’s” occur:

  1. Decade – when you start each new decade of your life.
  2. Death – whenever you experience the death of a loved one.
  3. Divorce – when you experience a divorce or other major family change.
  4. Diagnosis – when you are diagnosed with a serious health condition.
  5. Decline – when you experience a significant decline or deterioration of an existing health condition, especially when it diminishes your ability to live independently.

Source: American Bar Association

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