Advance Directive for Seniors - The Importance of Creating One
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How to Help a Senior Loved One Create an Advance Directive

How to Help a Senior Loved One Create an Advance Directive

Contemplating our own end-of-life care decisions can be unsettling, so we just put off talking about it. But what happens in the event of a medical emergency that leaves you unable to speak for yourself? Many seniors never get around to making their wishes known. Thus, resulting in choices made for you that you might not agree with or want. This is where the importance of creating an advance directive comes into play.

Reflecting on what matters to you and sharing those desires with your loved ones in case you become incapacitated is important. 

Make Your Wishes Known 

Drafting an advance directive is the easiest way to make your wishes known. By planning in advance, you get to relieve your family of having to make major medical decisions during moments of grief while getting the medical care that you desire. 

An advance directive will provide guidance and peace of mind for your loved ones if you were incapacitated due to an accident or illness and unable to discuss the type of care you would like to receive with your healthcare provider. 

What is an Advance Directive? 

An advance directive is a legal document. It outlines a person's wishes regarding the types of treatment they would like to receive when they can no longer speak for themselves. Having this written statement in place ensures that they carry out your wishes regarding care. 

Who Needs an Advance Directive? 

An advance directive gives you some degree of control over your own medical decisions in the case of an emergency, accident, or at the end of life when you are unable to communicate with yourself. Older adults and the terminally ill highly need advance directives. However, anybody can draft one. 

Preparing an Advance Directive

Creating an advance directive can be upsetting. But this document will help avoid confusion and disagreement during a time of crisis. Since it's a legal document, you can hire an attorney to help you create an advance directive. However, that's not necessary. 

Local hospitals and organizations such as Senior Helpers here in Des Plaines can help you create an advance directive and prepare you for a difficult conversation with your loved ones. An advance directive usually comprises two documents: 

Living Will

A living will is a document that sets forth a person's end-of-life instructions. This typically happens once they are unable to make decisions due to mental or physical impairment. You must draft a living will to make sure that your healthcare provider understands what actions they can or cannot perform to ease your pain or prolong your life when you become incapacitated.

Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that allows the incapacitated individual to designate someone they can trust to make decisions on their behalf. This ensures that their wishes as stated in the living will are fulfilled. The POA is also known as a health care proxy. 

Planning for end-of-life care comes with many difficulties and decisions that we don't want to think about or make. But putting off creating these critical documents will only add to the pain and confusion during difficult moments. An advance directive offers comfort by providing invaluable guidance in a time of crisis.