One evening at dusk, while driving down a dark, wooded roadway you spot a deer crossing the road. It's too late to stop but you try and with all your might and braking power you stop but only after avoiding the deer and veering off the roadway into the brush along side the road.
You are unconscious, bleeding and in need of medical attention. The ambulance arrives and whisks you to the E.R. where the trauma team immediately begins their medical processes to revive you.
After stabilizing you as best they can, hospital protocol kicks in. The medical staff wants to know your preferences: Do you want to be resuscitated? Do you want to be connected to life support? Second guessing is not what medical personnel do. They want to know YOUR wishes for YOUR life.
Medical Advance Directives Save Lives
That's where a Medical Advance Directive is a lifesaver. A Medical Advance Directive is a notarized statement of your desires for your medical care such as whether you prefer to be resuscitated, whether you want to be connected to life support or whether you would want a feeding tube. When you are not conscious or able to tell medical personnel your desires, the Medical Advance Directive will speak for you. The Medical Advance Directive also allows you to appoint a person who you want to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Here are 5 reasons why you should have a Medical Advance Directive
- It's your voice for your medical care when you are unable to speak or communicate. It is what you do and don't want in terms of medical care if you are unable to speak for yourself. In other words, you decide how far you wish medical professionals to go in preserving your life.
- You state whether or not you want to receive life-prolonging treatments such as being connected to life support or it might include not administering nutrients through a feeding tube if you are in a coma or persistent vegetative state. Typically, a feeding tube will be continued by hospital staff indefinitely unless they are told to do so otherwise.
- You state whether to refuse pain medications, referred to as “palliative care.” The goal of palliative care is to keep a person as comfortable as possible, and focuses on quality of life and maintaining one's dignity until the end. Palliative care can be given in a hospital, hospice or the person's own home.
- You designate someone you trust as your health care agent. This person is called your health care representative and it is their job to make sure your end of life wishes are carried out as you intended.
- You can state whether you want to donate your organs after you die. One donor can save eight lives and help up to 50 people through corneas, tissues and more!
Important whether you want life support or not
It is important to keep in mind that having a Medical Advance Directive is something you should have in place whether you want end of life treatment or not, since it represents your wishes, whatever they may be. Medical Advance Directives are not just for people who do not want to be kept alive on machines. They are also for people who want to be kept alive regardless of the circumstances.
Take Action Now
Decisions like these will be made by someone and better that it be someone who knows your wishes. Whether you are 25, 55 or 85, you need a Medical Advance Directive as part of your estate plan.