Advance Directive / Power of Attorney
Everyone has a right to make decisions about their healthcare. In most circumstances, you make your own decisions after being informed of your medical problems by your physician or other medical personnel. However, there may be a period in your life in which you do not have the mental capacity to make medical choices. This is when an advance directive/power of attorney for healthcare becomes very helpful, as it will relieve your family or caregivers from the burden of deciding what you want done under certain circumstances.
What happens when there is no advance directive?
If you do not have an advance directive, and you cannot speak for yourself, your physician will need to consult with family, friends or clergy for medical decisions. If an agreement cannot be reached, a legal guardian will need to be appointed by the court. Attorney fees and court costs to appoint a legal guardian may exceed $800.
What do advance directives do?
Advance directives can:
- Designate a person to speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself and help protect your right to make medical choices that affect your life.
- Help your family in times of stress when faced with difficult healthcare decisions.
- Help your physician by providing guidelines for your care.
- Protect you in extreme medical situations, when you are unable to communicate due to brain damage, brain disease, permanent coma or terminal illness.
- Limit life-prolonging measures when there is no chance of recovery, such as CPR to restore stopped breathing and/or heart beat; I.V. therapy or feeding tube insertion when you can no longer eat or drink; respirators used to keep you breathing when there is no chance of recovery.
- Provide pain relief medications to lessen your discomfort.
How to create an advance directive:
- Contact Holy Family Memorial’s Pastoral Care department or your attorney.
- Discuss your advance directive with healthcare agents, family and friends.
- Put your wishes in writing and be as specific as possible.
- Sign and date your advance directive with witnesses present.
- Keep a card in your wallet stating you have an advance directive.
- Give Holy Family Memorial, your healthcare agents, family members and all who may be notified in case of an emergency a copy of your advance directive.
Things to consider:
- Do Not Resuscitate orders
- Organ donation
- End of life statement