If you’ve been considering writing an advance directive (also known as a living will) but haven’t sat down to put your wishes on paper, you should stop waiting and start writing.
An advance directive is a legal document that lets you voice your decisions about end-of-life care. Your health care professionals and loved ones will use your advance directive to determine how to act in your best interest when you are unable to communicate your medical wishes yourself. If these wishes haven’t been put into writing, you risk receiving medical treatment that you don’t want.
If you’ve been putting off writing your advance directive, here are three reasons to develop it today
1. You never know when you will need one
An advance directive allows your medical team and loved ones to know how you want to be cared for should you ever be in a position where you cannot communicate your desires. For example, if you became permanently unconscious, your advance directive would provide guidelines for how long to use a feeding tube or if you want to be resuscitated should your heart stop.
These types of health emergencies can happen at any age. You can’t predict if or when you will ever need to have an advance directive to dictate your wishes, but you will breathe easier once you have one created.
2. You can update your advance directive after it’s been created
Some people put off developing their advance directives because they don’t have all of their care instructions decided on or they anticipate that their wishes may change in the foreseeable future. Don’t let this stop you from writing your care plan. You can make changes to your advance directive after it’s been made, but you can’t make one appear after you have suffered the type of medical emergency that necessitates one.
3. It will put your loved ones at ease
If you anticipate that a family member or friend will be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf should you lose the ability to make health care choices on your own, an advance directive will give them a clear understanding of what you do and do not want. This will reduce stress and confusion should they become responsible for your care.
You’ll want to sit down with the person who will be responsible for advocating for your health care wishes to discuss the guidelines you are putting in place in the advance directive and make sure they are able to adhere to them. By developing your plan and discussing your wishes with your loved one now, they will be fully prepared to quickly communicate your health care choices with your medical team should your advance directive kick in.