It is important that you have the ability to tell others how you want to be treated if you need medical care. If you’re unable to speak on your own behalf, will the people around you know what you want?
If you’re not sure that those who surround you will listen to your wishes or take the steps you’d like them to take when you’re ill and unable to make health care choices, then you should set up a health care directive as soon as possible.
What does a health care directive do?
A health care directive comes into play when an attending physician decides that a patient cannot make medical decisions on their own due to incapacity of some kind. For example, if you are under anesthesia, you won’t be able to make decisions for yourself unless the medical team is able to wake you. Similarly, someone with a severe head injury or dementia may not have the capacity to make decisions for themselves.
With a health care directive, you’ll establish your choices for health care. You’ll be able to appoint an agent to speak on your behalf and make decisions for you when you cannot. You’ll also be able to go over the kinds of medical treatment that you do or do not want.
These directives often have additional information, such as what to do if you are incapacitated while pregnant or what you’d like to have done with your organs if you pass away. For this reason, this document is important to include in your estate plan. That way, your wishes will be protected.