The importance of an Advanced Health Directive: An advance health directive gives you the opportunity to outline the health care services you wish to, or do not wish to receive in the event that you are unable to make decisions. Depending on your state, you may know this as an advance care plan, or advance personal plan. This article outlines what an advance health directive is, what information goes in one, and why you should complete one as soon as possible.
What is an advance health directive?
An advance health directive outlines the medical treatment and care you wish to receive in the event that you are unable to make decisions. These directions only take effect if you lack the capacity to make your own decisions or communicate your preferences. This may occur if you have a serious injury, disease, illness, or stroke.
You can outline the treatment you want or do not want to receive in the event you can’t make decisions in the future. You can also appoint a trusted attorney(s) to make decisions on your behalf about your health care. This directive has a higher priority than your hierarchy of decision makers (enduring guardians, guardians, spouses, etc.).
When should you make one?
The best time to make an advance health directive is as soon as possible, before you have any serious health concerns. You should look to make one quickly if you are about to be admitted to hospital, have a chronic medical condition, or expect your condition to affect your decision making in the future.
This directive will ensure that your future health care will be as close to how you have outlined as possible. For example, your directive may outline that you consent to cardiopulmonary resuscitation and artificial ventilation, but do not consent to blood transfusions.
How do you start an Advanced Health Directive?
You will need to complete this form in the presence of a doctor, who will help you to understand your decisions and explain any unfamiliar terms. Your doctor will need to sign your form to certify that you are capable of making an advance health directive.
You will then need to sign the form in the presence of a witness. The witness must be either a justice of peace, commissioner for declarations, notary public, or lawyer. If you have appointed an attorney(s), they will need to sign the form to accept their appointment before they can begin making decisions on your behalf.
Visit a link below for instructions on making an advance health directive:
What information is required?
Your form can give general instructions, such as whether you do or do not consent to life sustaining treatments. As well as provide more specific instructions, such as consent to specific treatments, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, assisted ventilation, artificial nutrition, artificial hydration, antibiotics, kidney dialysis, and blood transfusions.
You will also use your directive to, if you wish, appoint your attorney(s). You will need to outline how your attorneys must make decisions. For example, you may want your attorneys to make decisions jointly (all attorneys must agree), severally (any of your attorneys may decide), by majority (at least half must agree), or another method.
You can also put more general information in your advance health directive. This may include your current health conditions and concerns, general views, wishes, and preferences. You can also outline any of your cultural, religious, or spiritual values that you hold important.
What should you do once you've completed it?
Once you have completed your advance health directive, you should create copies of the form and store the original in a safe place. It’s best that you have these copies certified and signed by a justice of peace, then given to your health care providers. Make sure your close family and friends know that you have an advance health directive and where they can find it.
You may need to register your completed advance health directive at your state authority. Visit a link below for instructions on where to register your advance health directive:
Remember, it’s best to complete your advance health directive as early as possible, before you have any serious health concerns. Keep a copy of our helpful phone numbers for aged care consumers so you can complete your form with all the information you need.