You may not like to think about it, but an accident or change in health can happen to any of us. It is important that you plan and document your health care wishes ahead of time. Advance care planning means that you plan in advance what kind of care or treatment you want and don't want. It involves discussing your wishes and preferences and then putting those decisions down into writing. Having what you want in writing ensures that you receive the care you want, even if you are unable to communicate.
Advance Directives for Health Care are essential to your advance care planning. They allow you to put in writing your decisions about your medical treatment. Advance Directives for Health Care are actually three legal documents rolled into one: Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Appointment of a Health Care Representative. Together, they comprise one of the most important steps you can take in letting your family and doctor know what your wishes are for your own medical care.
The Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to make those yourself. A Living Will clarifies your wish that life‑prolonging procedures be withheld or withdrawn so that you can be permitted to die naturally. You can also make your wishes known regarding artificially supplied food and water. The Appointment of a Health Care Representative gives you the opportunity to appoint someone to enforce your living will.
Advance Directives for Health Care are the only legally valid way to express your wishes regarding your medical treatment. However, you may want to express in writing your personal values or traditions. In that case, you might take advantage of Five Wishes.
Five Wishes is a comprehensive program that helps guide you, your loved ones, your trusted advisors, and your healthcare team through conversations about your healthcare. It addresses personal, emotional, and spiritual issues. It is designed to focus on what matters most to you and is written in a user-friendly language.
Five Wishes allows you to express:
What types of medical treatment you would want – or not want
What is most important for your comfort and dignity
What important spiritual or faith traditions should be remembered
What you want your loved ones and healthcare providers to know about you
Five Wishes is not a stand-alone document; it must be used in conjunction with your Advance Directives for Health Care in order to be legally enforceable. One of our experienced attorneys can prepare an Advance Healthcare Directives for you. You can then keep Five Wishes with your Advance Healthcare Directives so that your family, friends, and healthcare team better understand what you want.
Source: Five Wishes