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About Advanced Directives


As a result of the controversy about Terry Schiavo's last days there have been many questions about advanced directives.
The following will speak to some of these issues:

1. What is an advanced directive?

2. How would it be used?

3. What are the types of advanced directives?

1. What is an Advanced Directive? -

It is a written statement about future medical care by an individual who directs others to follow their choices when that person is unable to communicate.

  • It must be in writting.
  • it will direct others to make a specific decision(s).
  • It may identify another individual to make decisions on behalf of the person.
  • Thiis will be used only when an individuall cannot speak up independently.

2. How Would it be Used?

Some examples are:

It directs others to carry or not to carry out CPR(cardio-pulmonary resucitation)- to restore or not restore breathing or the heartbeat.

B. Hospitalization
Do or do not hospitalize.

C. Feeding Tubes
Do or do not use feeding tubes.

D. Respirators 
Do or do not use machines to maintain breathing.

E. Pain Relief
What should be done to address pain relief.

Should this be allowed or not.

G.Intravenous(IV) Therapy
Provide food,water and/or medication though a tube placed in a vein.


3. What are the types of Advanced Directives?

A. Living Will

Identifies an individual's decisions about what to do at or near the end of life. Instructs others about what that person wants to see happen.

B. Health Care Proxy(Health Care Power of Attorney)
Designates a particular person(Health Care Agent or Proxy) who will make someone's healthcare decisions.

It goes into effect when the person can no longer make decisions

A lawyer is not needed for a health care proxy.

You(or the person who does this) can change the decision.


C. Durable Power of Attorney 
Designates an individual to act on behalf of and under someone's direction(financial and or health care decisions). It is durable because the responsibilities continue after the individual can no longer give directions due to incapacity.

Laws in different States sometimes prohibit specific advanced directives. You should check to determine what is allowed in your State.

Any advanced directive can be changed or modified. For example, a directive for a DNR can be changed to be full code or vice versa.