Why An Advance Directive Is Essential For Your Health And Peace Of Mind

National Healthcare Decisions Day is this month: the perfect time to think about updating your advance directive.

If you become incapacitated, your advance directive ensures that your loved ones and your health care professionals know and can act on your wishes. Most people with a serious end-of-life illness or injury would prefer to be at home, around loved ones, and being given the care and pain medication they want. Instead, those without an advance directive may be hospitalized for an extended period of time, sometimes unnecessarily.

What your advance directive provides:

1. You Choose Who Makes Your Health Care Decisions.

We create a health care power of attorney for you as part of your advance directive. This names the person who will make health care decisions on your behalf if you cannot, and specifies alternates in case the person you named is unable or unwilling to make those decisions for you when the time comes.

2. You Decide What Medical Care You Want.

Your advance directive specifies if you want life support, and in what situation: terminal illness, disease or an injury where recovery is unlikely, or coma. You also decide how you want to manage pain.

3. You Choose Your Comfort Care.

Each person’s wishes for end-of-life care are unique. Comfort care addresses physical comfort, mental and emotional needs, spiritual issues, and practical tasks. The goal is to ease suffering and provide the best quality of life possible in accordance with your specific wishes.

4. You List The Support You Want.

Think of this as the guidelines for what you’d really like your friends, family, and even caregivers to do. You might wish to die at home. You might want company, prayers, a hand held, or to be able to see pictures of loved ones.

5. You Communicate Your Final Wishes.

Your advance directive helps you communicate with friends and family and ensures that no words are left unsaid. You might offer love and forgiveness or ask to be forgiven. It also contains practical instructions: your wishes for a memorial, burial, or donating your body to science.

Once you have an advance directive, it’s critical to communicate it. If you’re a C.A.R.E. member, we can help by organizing a family C.A.R.E. summit and by uploading all estate planning documents to our C.A.R.E. portal.

We are here to ensure that there are clear instructions about your unique wishes if you are not able to communicate those wishes yourself. Please contact us at (703) 448-7575 if you have questions or would like to update your advance directive.