What Is an Advanced Directive?
In its most basic form, an advanced directive is a written, legal statement that makes your doctor, family, and others aware of your medical treatment preferences should you become unable to tell them, and it designates a specific individual to ensure that your wishes are met.
There are generally two sections to any advanced directive. First, there is a document establishing “Durable Power of Attorney,” which appoints an individual to make choices and communicate with medical professionals on your behalf should you become incapacitated. This should be a responsible person who you know and trust to make objective decisions and who will refuse to be pressured into acting contrary to your wishes, whether those wishes are stated explicitly or not.
When you complete an advanced directive, you will also create what is known as an Individual Healthcare Instruction. This document makes your wishes known explicitly by recording them in a notarized or witnessed document or by dictating them to a physician or other qualified medical provider to transcribe on your behalf. This document informs your medical care team how to respond in the event of an emergency — for instance, absolving them of any liability should you provide “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) instructions while also preserving your wishes.
Who Should Complete an Advanced Directive?
Advanced directives and other end-of-life planning initiatives are not only for the elderly. Anyone over the age of 18 who is capable of making their own medical decisions can (and should) complete an advanced directive. It’s a good idea for all adults to conduct thoughtful end-of-life care planning, but especially so for young persons who are married, have families, or work in markedly more dangerous professions. It’s also wise for people who travel frequently or will be traveling abroad in the near future to complete an advanced directive in the event of an emergency.
It’s best not to wait to be hospitalized or diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition before completing an advanced directive. No attorney is necessary, but consulting with legal counsel when making such important decisions certainly won’t hurt, especially since the laws surrounding advanced directives vary from state to state. Once you have completed your advanced directive, make sure that the original is stored in a safe place and that copies are distributed to important people, like the person you have appointed, your physician(s), and your close friends and family members.
Enroll in John Muir Health’s Free Advanced Directive Course
All adults, regardless of age, need to understand that they have control over their own life and death decisions, but they must make these wishes explicit in order for them to be met. John Muir Health’s free course on advanced directives presents an opportunity for participants to clarify their choices and ensure they will be carried out to the letter in the event of an emergency. The primary objective is to help attendees understand their end-of-life treatment options and document individual preferences.
John Muir Health’s Geriatric Care Coordinator, Suzanne Leib, will provide all required documents and will review them with you thoroughly as she assists you in their completion. There is currently availability for each of the four courses being offered this fall.
|Advanced Directive Courses: Fall 2016|
|10/25: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM||John Muir Outpatient Center, Walnut Creek|
|10/28: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM||John Muir Health Outpatient Center, Pleasanton|
|11/16: 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM||John Muir Medical Center, Concord|
|12/09: 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM||John Muir Health Outpatient Center, Walnut Creek – Wellness Services|