Aging & Menopause

Advanced Health Care Directives

While your new year might be filled with travel plans, positive goals and hopes for a wonderful 2015, there is one item you might not have considered yet: the importance of an advanced health care directive, often known as a living will. While no one really likes to think about end-of-life issues and care, this document significantly simplifies difficult decisions for family, care providers and physicians. A living will simply describes your preferences and wishes when it comes to end-of-life care. It will speak for you – or your loved one – when you can’t. A legal document that enumerates your medical care choices, a living will or advanced directive will help others in your life if you should become seriously injured, terminally ill, in the late stages of dementia or have another condition where you can’t voice your own opinions and decisions. “We understand how difficult these decisions are to make and to face, but at the same time, they make an incredibly challenging time a little easier for everyone else,” said Dr. Donna Block. “They help to ensure that you get the care you want and need, reduce any confusion that might arise and guide the others in your life during a tough time.”

Dr. Block adds that living wills aren’t just for seniors. Since a crisis can happen no matter what your age, it makes sense for women (and their loved ones) who are starting families, preparing for surgery or just considering what’s next to craft an advanced health care directive. Before you meet with an attorney, you will want to consider what is important to you and how you want to live. You can also talk with your doctor about issues including resuscitation, ventilation and breathing machines, medications, treatment and more to help you contemplate all relevant issues. Once you have a living will established, make sure that it’s kept in a safe but accessible spot and give a copy to your family (or anyone who you have named to make medical decisions on your behalf) and your doctor. If your spouse, children or other loved ones disagree with some of your decisions, you can share why you made certain choices, but ultimately remember that it’s your life and your choice.

 

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