April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day

Do you have an advanced directive? Whether a living will or medical power of attorney; these two things are at the basis of the “National Healthcare Decisions Day” — making a decision about “end-of-life care” and putting it to paper.

What is an advanced directive?
An advanced directive is a general term that describes two kinds of legal documents, living wills and medical powers of attorney. These documents allow a person to give instructions about future medical care should he or she be unable to participate in medical decisions due to serious illness or incapacity.Each state regulates the use of advance directives differently.

You can go here to download an advanced directive form based on the state you live in.

What is a “living will”?
A document made by individuals that relays wishes about medical treatment should he or she be at the end of life and unable to communicate.

What is “medical power of attorney”?
A document appointing someone else to make decisions about his or her healthcare if the individual is unable to communicate. The person appointed may be called a healthcare agent, surrogate, attorney-in-fact or proxy.

It is estimated that less than 30% of all Americans have an advanced directive in place. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but think about talking to your family/loved ones about the following situations:

The use of artificial nutrition and hydration.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) – if you went into cardiac and/or pulmonary arrest (your heart and/or breathing stops) would you want CPR?
Intubation and/or Mechanical Ventilation – A machine called a ventilator forces air down into the lungs if you cannot breath on your own.
Brain Death – the irreversible loss of all brain function.