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What to know about advance health care directives

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2020 | Estate Planning

For the aging population, figuring out what to do if or when health declines becomes more of a priority. To have the most control in the event of incapacitation, or at the end of life, part of estate planning includes filling out an advance health care directive.

This directive names a person to speak for the sick patient and outlines specific wishes for life sustainment, end-of-life actions and more.

What to include in a health care directive

According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, there are three parts to an advance health care directive. One is to name a decision maker. The second is to choose or deny the types of health care, which includes a living will. The last step is to sign it to make it valid.

While naming a medical decision maker is not necessary, it does prevent someone else named who would not understand or know the sick persons’ wishes. The decision maker should be someone trustworthy who will follow the stated directive. This person will be the one to choose the location for care, the medical team as well as the treatments and medications listed in the living will.

Living will

According to Penn Medicine, a health care directive includes a living will, in which a person outlines specific instructions for the medical team when at the end of life. The preferences should take into account personal values and what is most important. One may include wishes for assistance, such as the use of intubation or mechanical ventilator for breathing or artificial hydration and nutrition. The person may choose or decline to get antibiotics or pain relievers.

A living will should also include directions about the use of CPR or other intervention to regain a heartbeat. In the event the kidneys fail, a living will can direct the use of dialysis. Other details may include organ or tissue donation upon death.