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Advance Directives Give You Control

Nobody likes to think about getting sick or injured, but life can be unpredictable. That’s why you should create an Advance Directive when you’re healthy.

This document gives you peace of mind that your medical wishes will be carried out, even if you can’t speak for yourself. Think of it as getting free car insurance. You’re not expecting an accident, but you’re prepared just in case.

What Is an Advance Directive?

An Advance Directive is a legal document that lets your family and doctors know what you want done — and not done — if you’re very ill or unconscious. It’s only used when you can’t speak for yourself.

For example, you can specify whether you’d want doctors to use a feeding tube or a breathing machine to keep you alive. An Advance Directive also allows you to name someone you trust to make medical decisions about your care.

Where Should You Start?

When creating an Advance Directive, you can start with your doctor. He or she can help guide you through the medical options you may face, such as whether you would want CPR, a breathing machine, tube feeding, medications or surgery. You can also discuss other options such as organ donation, but be sure to have this conversation with your loved ones.

In an Advance Directive, you can name someone to make decisions for you in case you can’t do so yourself. Choose a person who will make decisions that match your beliefs and morals. This person should be someone who you believe will be able to carry out your wishes, even if it means making a hard decision. Be sure you speak with this person now so that they understand what you’re asking of them.

It’s also important to talk with your family about your medical wishes. Having an Advance Directive can relieve guilt, stress, confusion and even fighting among your loved ones during an upsetting and emotional time.

Creating an Advance Directive

Creating an Advance Directive doesn’t have to be hard. Take a look at our Advance Directive, available for download in both English and in Spanish. If you have any questions, call your doctor.

You can change an Advance Directive at any time if your wishes change. Once it’s created, it’s a good idea to share a copy with your family and your doctor.

Remember, the most important thing an Advance Directive gives you is control. It allows you to speak for yourself at a very critical time.