When should I use an advance healthcare directive?

If you are concerned about what would happen to you or how you would be treated in the event of a medical crisis, injury, or illness that left you unable to make decisions, an advance healthcare directive can put your mind at ease. This practical document can ensure that your wishes are understood and followed and even makes things easier for your family if they are struggling with difficult decisions about your care. Setting up an advance directive while you are healthy and competent ensures that the document will be valid and that your loved ones understand your wishes.

Your advance healthcare directive can include your preferences about any or all of the following aspects of care:

  • Resuscitation, including if you want CPR or electric shock stimulation
  • Ventilation by mechanical device
  • Tube feeding via IV or stomach tube
  • Dialysis to remove waste from your system if your kidneys are not working
  • Administration of antibiotics, antivirals, and other medications
  • Palliative care, comfort care, and pain management including hospice care
  • Tissue and organ donation wishes

Considering all of these factors ahead of time and incorporating the things that are important to you in your directive can give you peace of mind and ensure that your family members understand your wishes.

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