Many adult children find out how unprepared their parent really is when they go into the hospital. Only 30% of seniors have an Advance Directive in place.
What is an advance directive?
An advance directive is a summary of your wishes in terms of what type of treatment and medical decisions should be made on your behalf if you can no longer speak for yourself.
An advance directive would describe what kind of care you want if you have an illness that you are unlikely to recover from, or if you are permanently unconscious. Advance directives usually tell your doctor that you do or don’t want certain kinds of treatment.
There are many types of Advance Directives. Each state’s laws about advance directives are unique. You should be aware of the laws in your state. Living Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) are all considered mainstream Advance Directives In most states.
A Living Will is a document that states the wishes of various medical scenarios for people without a person designated to make medical decisions for them. On the other hand, Durable Powers of Attorney (DPA) assigns a person (advocate) that acts on their behalf to make medical decisions. Even if these advance directives aren’t officially recognized by the law in your state, they can still guide your loved ones and doctor if you are unable to make decisions about your medical care. Ask your doctor, lawyer or state representative about the law in your state.
Lastly, a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) is also a type of advance directive, a request not to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops or if you stop breathing.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get started:
-Use a form provided by your doctor.
-Write your wishes down by yourself.
-Call your health department or state department on aging to get a form.
-Call a lawyer.
-Use a computer software package for legal documents.
Here is a link that gives you the state forms:
This may be the most important step you can take in order to protect your parent’s wishes.