What does an advance health care directive protect?

Imagine a scenario where you are admitted into the hospital with a serious condition. You are unable to speak and are very confused, which makes it all but impossible for you to tell doctors what you want or don't want to happen.

In these situations, doctors and nurses will look elsewhere for some direction. Typically, questions will be directed toward your loved ones, who may not know what you would want to do; they may also not be prepared to make serious health care decisions on your behalf. Suddenly, everything can become incredibly complicated and stressful. To avoid placing this burden on your family while also ensuring your wishes are protected, you should have in place an advance health care directive. 

An advance health care directive can protect many things, depending on the type of directive completed.

As noted in this article by the State of New York's Office of the Attorney General, you can protect:

  • Yourself, by ensuring you have someone to protect your rights and be responsible for your well-being if you become incapacitated
  • Your loved ones, by assigning one person to make health care-related decisions who can be informed of the designation and your wishes before something happens
  • Your wishes, regarding decisions like feeding tubes, pain relief, resuscitation efforts and organ donation

By completing advance health care directives, you can be doing yourself and your family members a great service by making some difficult decisions ahead of time and when you are able to communicate them clearly.

Additionally, having these plans in place now gives you and your loved ones the opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns that may arise, which can alleviate a great deal of anxiety if the time comes to enforce your wishes.

In order to secure these protections through a legally enforceable document, and to examine other options for long-term care planning, you would be wise to discuss advance health care directives and your wishes with an attorney.

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