An advance directive is a legal document that gives medical guidance to family members and healthcare professionals. It is there so that, even when a person cannot make their wishes known in a specific moment, they have some way to communicate what care they want and what they do not want.
The most common example of this is an elderly person who has experienced mental decay or who has perhaps even fallen into a coma. Do they want to be kept on life support? Do they want to be resuscitated? What types of treatments would they not want? These are important questions, but they can’t communicate the answers. The advance directive does it for them so that everyone is on the same page.
That said, the Mayo Clinic notes that it’s not just the elderly who need advance directives. These are often thought of as part of end-of-life planning, so people assume they won’t need them until they’re in their 60s or 70. The Mayo Clinic states that the unexpected can happen at any time, though, so it’s important for people of all ages to make their wishes known.
For instance, a 35-year-old parent could get into a car accident and suffer a head injury. What type of care do they want? They may have never had these discussions with their spouse and the children are too young. What should doctors do? The advance directive gives them a way to move forward with proper treatment.
If you know that you want to use a document like this but you are not sure where to begin, an attorney can answer your questions and show you how to get started.