Persons residing in assisted living communities such as the Mission at Agua Fria should always have health care directives in place if they have any preferences with regard to medical care. This article doesn’t just apply to seniors or those with health conditions, however: every person should have a plan in place in case the unexpected happens.
In many cases, a person may not be able to speak for themselves once they have entered a serious medical situation. This could mean a major injury, terminal illness, a coma, dementia, or any other situation that renders them unable to communicate their wishes to medical staff.
This is why the health care directive, also known as a living will, exists. It is a set of written, advanced instructions left in place for when the above-mentioned situations occur. A person should also grant power of attorney to another person to allow that person to make decisions on their behalf.
The Benefits of Having a Health Care Directive in Place
There are several advantages to having such a set of instructions in place:
- They help to ensure there will be no confusion about what type of medical treatment is to be received if a person cannot communicate for themselves. For example, some people do not wish to be placed on a mechanical ventilator as part of an effort to be kept alive. If this is the case, it’s important to ensure that medical staff are aware of this ahead of time.
- They reduce pressure upon family members or other caregivers. If a person doesn’t have a set of directions in place, making medical decisions will fall to their caregivers, which can render an already extremely difficult situation far worse for them. Clear instructions mean that family members will not have to make major end-of-life decisions for their loved ones.
- They will allow a person’s end-of-life wishes to be respected. For example, if a person wishes to donate their organs or tissues as part of their health care directive, it’s critical for doctors to act quickly in order to ensure organ viability. Having that living will in place will allow critical procedures to take place without any delays.
How to Set Up a Health Care Directive
A health care directive is a legal document and must be in writing to be official. The laws regarding health care directives vary from state to state. In some, they must be officially witnessed by a notary public. In others, a simple signature from a witness will suffice.
Many organizations have links to the specific forms that are required to create a health directive. Some of these include AARP and the American Bar Association.
Once the form has been filled out and the legal logistics hammered out, the person creating the health care directive should send copies to their doctor, health care agent, and family members. They should also discuss the particulars of their wishes with their caregivers so that the details of their directive are well-known.