How can I create an advanced directive?

Creating an advanced directive can be difficult. It’s not easy to consider one’s own mortality, especially if you have a chronic or life-threatening illness. However, doing so is a must to ensure that you receive the type of medical care you prefer should you become incapacitated by illness or injury. The American Cancer Society offers the following tips to help you set up an advanced directive as soon as possible.

The first step is to speak with your loved ones about your wishes. This will prevent surprises down the line once your wishes are put into action. It will also allow your family members to ask questions about the type of care you prefer, which is a good way to assuage any concerns they may have. Also, take some time to designate a healthcare proxy, who will serve as your personal representative.

You should also be specific about your wishes. Name any treatments you’re OK with receiving, as well as those you’re not. For instance, you may not permit the use of breathing machines to prolong your life, and this information should be spelled out explicitly in your living will. If instructions are vague, there is a greater chance that your family will be conflicted.

Also, make sure your advanced directive is accessible. Locking it away will ensure it’s secure, but it will also prevent your family from being able to access it when necessary. Make multiple copies and hand them out to your family as well as your attorney. You can also keep a copy on file in your personal records just in case.


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