What is an advance directive?

The reality is that too many of us spend our last days in ways we would never choose. According to a recent poll by the California Health Care Foundation, more than 90 percent of people think it’s important to talk about their wishes for end-of-life care, yet less than 30 percent of people have discussed what they want. Expressing our end-of-life wishes relieves our families and loved ones from the burden of making tough decisions for us.

All adults can benefit from thinking about what their healthcare choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves. These decisions can be written down in an advance directive so that others know what they are. Advance directives come in two main forms:

  • A “healthcare power of attorney” (or “proxy” or “agent” or “surrogate”) documents the person you select to be your voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • A “living will” documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.

Choose someone you trust to be your patient advocate. Your patient advocate will make medical decisions for you if you are too sick or unable to make them yourself. Contact your doctor if you have questions about medical treatment options. Write your choices down on advance directive and durable power of attorney for health care forms. Share the completed forms with your doctors, nurses, social workers, friends, family and patient advocate. Talk with them about your choices to ensure they’re respected when the time comes.

At Hospice of Southwest Ohio, we provide an avenue for you to discuss your wishes with your loved ones through our Voice Your Choice program.

Learn the myths and facts about health care and advance directives here.

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