Serious illness or a sudden accident can leave you unable to speak. Yet someone needs to make choices about your health care. How can you communicate while incapacitated?
Make your wishes known and give your loved ones peace of mind by preparing advance directives. Be sure you understand the implications of your choices.
There are two main types of advance directives. You may create one or both.
Your living will identifies which life-sustaining procedures you wish to receive if necessary. When you are facing death or permanent unconsciousness, and there is no way to reverse your condition, your medical team follows the guidelines set forth in your living will. Doctors will continue to administer pain management treatments and provide water.
Power of attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions is a document that names your health care agent. The agent has the authority to make decisions about your health care in the event that you cannot make such decisions for yourself. Your agent follows your guidance; in areas you have not addressed, the agent acts in your best interest.
A great deal of thought goes into preparing advance directives. Once you prepare the proper documents, talk to your family about your choices.
If you create a power of attorney, give a copy to your chosen health care agent. Also give copies of both the power of attorney and your living will to your health care providers. Keep the original in a safe place where loved ones can find it easily should the need arise.