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Advance Directives or "Living Wills"

What to Consider

Many people feel that if something where to happen to them, they would like to think they have made provisions for taking some control over what happens to them when they are no longer able to communicate for themselves.

 

The answer would seem to be an advance directive.  Have you considered the consequences of an advance directive that is made ‘just in case’ of an accident or illness?

 

What if you decide in your advance directive that you would not like to be resuscitated and you then have an emergency heart operation where temporarily your heart is stopped? The doctors would not be able to restart it even though you would likely live a perfectly normal, active life afterwards.

 

What if you decide in your advance directive that you would not like to be artificially fed and then you suffered an illness and could not eat or drink yourself, but given time and nourishment, your body would heal itself, perhaps with the aid of medication, and you would then go on to live a normal life?


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Doctor Check-Up

When drafting an advance directive, it is important to consider the consequences of the limitations you are placing on the medical profession.  It may be better to wait until you have been diagnosed with either a terminal or degenerative illness and then, with consultation from your doctor with regard to the likely course of the illness and what is likely to happen to you, draft an advance directive based on that information so that you can be very specific about what you want to happen.

 

The health & welfare LPA can only be used when the mental capacity of the donor has been sufficiently impaired and includes a directive to allow the attorney to make decisions regarding medical treatment.  It is not as detailed as an advance directive.

If you have capacity, you can change your mind about any directions in your advance directive, but it is up to the doctor to decide if you have capacity.  You have to be 16 years old to give consent to treatment, but you cannot refuse it until you are 18.  You cannot demand any treatment.

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