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Advance Directive – A Guide to Your Healthcare Decisions

As we grow older, we may face situations where we become unable to make important medical decisions for ourselves. This could happen due to a severe illness, a coma, or any other condition that makes us unable to communicate our wishes. That is why it’s important to create an Advance Directive – a legal document that outlines our healthcare wishes and appoints someone to make decisions on our behalf.

Caouple discussing healthcare plans

Types of Advance Directives:

There are two types of Advance Directives: a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. A Living Will is a document that explains what kind of medical treatment you would like to receive if you become terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state. A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a document that names a person you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.

What Does An Advance Directive Cover?

An Advance Directive documents the name of the person who you would like to make healthcare decisions for you at a time when you are unable to make them yourself – whether you are at home or in the hospital. It also gives instructions about what type of healthcare or treatment you want, or do not want, in critical situations.

The process of creating an Advance Directive is fairly simple. It’s important to note that advance directives are legal documents and must be completed in accordance with state laws. The Vermont Ethics Network’s online document, Vermont Advance Directive for Health Care, provides details and instructions.

While the thought of detailing your future healthcare direction or helping a loved one write down their end-of-life desires can be emotional, it is important to create an Advance Directive and make it available to those who might need to know including healthcare providers, caregivers, relatives or EMS responders. Once created, the document can bring peace of mind.

The Advance Directive from the Vermont Ethics Network addresses several issues:

  • Naming the person who you want to make health care decisions
  • Your desired types of treatments
  • Limitations of treatments (do not resuscitate, DNR, order)
  • Tissue or organ donation and burial preferences

Two witnesses must be present and sign the directive along with you. You can revoke all or part of the Advance Directive at any time or use a different form.

It’s also essential to discuss your wishes with your healthcare provider and your loved ones to ensure that everyone is on the same page, knowing that your wishes will be respected even if you are unable to communicate them. Talk to your loved ones and healthcare provider about creating an advance directive today.






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