Jill’s Blog: Advance Directive for Health Care – January 20, 2014

What’s an Advance Directive for Health Care? Why might I need or want one?

An Advance Directive for Health Care is exactly what it sounds like: It speaks for you if you cannot speak for yourself. It lets you choose while you can, and lets a person you choose speak for you if you cannot.

It’s that same old “What if” thinking I’ve been encouraging you to do!

If you only have elective or non-emergency medical procedures, you may not need to make one before you have a specific need. However, life does not always give you that choice, and the Advance Directive covers the unplanned issues, like an accident or sudden incapacitating illness.

If you go in for elective surgery, there is no immediacy because you are coherent and capable of telling the medical staff what you want done if things go wrong. In fact, you will usually complete an Advance Directive as part of your admission papers, if you don’t already have one.

However, let’s take another look at Mr. What If. What if you are going along minding your own business, perfectly healthy, and an accident or sudden incapacity occurs? You could be unconscious, and thus unable to tell the medical staff what choices you would make in this circumstance.

If you have an Advance Directive, the person you designate to make those choices for you already knows how you would want to handle it, and has the authority to enforce your wishes.

Your representative should be someone who knows you well, knows what you would want, and will stand strong for you if others seek to impose their choices for you. It is also a good idea to designate successor representatives, in case your first choice is not able to represent you when the need arises.

The best defense really is a good offense – and a good plan! We can help you make your plan.