When it comes to getting older, there are a lot of things for which to prepare. One is planning what will happen if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, and you can do this with an advance directive.
There are different parts to an advance directive, and the more detailed you are about your wishes, the more aligned your care will be with your values in the event you are terminally ill or have serious injuries.
Types of advance directives
According to the New York State Department of Health, there are five types of advance directives:
- Do not resuscitate order – this instructs the medical team to not provide CPR if your breathing or heartbeat stops
- Medical orders for life-sustaining treatment – you can outline the treatments, such as feeding tube or ventilator, you would want to help sustain your life
- Living will – allows you to outline your wants regarding end-of-life care and other healthcare treatments
- Healthcare proxy – this document names a healthcare agent who will make medical decisions on your behalf
- Living will and healthcare proxy – this combines the previous two directives
How to choose a healthcare agent
Even if you have all the available directives in which you state your healthcare wishes, naming a healthcare agent is beneficial because you have an advocate for you who can make additional decisions or defend the ones you have made. According to FindLaw, one of the most important traits of your agent is trustworthiness, because you want to make sure he or she will follow your instructions and wishes.
This person should be able to stand up to the family or others who disagree with your instructions. In the event a medical decision needs to happen quickly, an agent should be able to ask the right questions and make decisions when under pressure.
The healthcare agent must follow directions outlined in the DNR or other advance directives, but he or she also has the authority to make decisions that you did not address. That is why it is a good idea to discuss with the agent what your values and wishes are so there is no question as to what you want.