The importance of establishing an advance health care directive

Few people want to think about -- let alone discuss -- the final days of a loved one's life. Yet, difficult as long-term care and end-of-life planning feels, it's an important topic that advisors urge families in New York to discuss, so that they can establish an advance health care directive. But what, exactly, is an advance health care directive and why is it so important?

According to the National Institute on Aging, over 25 percent of Americans struggle with questions and medical treatment issues in the last days of their lives, but by that point, they are sadly no longer capable of making such decisions, or of making their wishes known. This is why advance planning is so important; it allows individuals to make these decisions while they are of sound mind, and legally establish the types of medical treatments and care they would wish to receive. This can include any number of possible emergency treatments to prolong an individual's life, from CPR and artificial nutrition to ventilators, hydration and more.

This, then, is what an advance health care directive does. This legal document is comprised of both a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will. It goes into effect only when the person becomes incapacitated and unable to express his or her wishes.

Advance health care directives are beneficial on a number of fronts. For one thing, they make certain that both the family and the physicians are aware of their loved one's wishes, and they give the individual time to consider such decisions without urgency. These documents also help remove the emotional burden from family members who might otherwise feel stressed about making such crucial decisions on their own. While such weighty issues may feel overwhelming, with the help of a New York living will lawyer, establishing an advance health care directive can provide peace of mind for both an individual and his or her family.

Source:, "Talk About Health Care Wishes Before it is Too Late", Dec. 12, 2017

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