If you are nineteen (19) or older, the law says you have the right to decide about your medical care.
If you are very sick or badly hurt, you may not be able to say what medical care you want.
If you have an advance directive, your doctor and family will know what medical care you want if you are too sick or hurt to talk or make decisions.
Types of advance directives
There are three types of advance directives. You can choose to have any or all three advance directives.
- A living will states what kind of care you want if you are too sick to communicate.
- You may choose someone to speak for you and make your choices known. You should talk to that person ahead of time and make sure that this person knows how you feel about different kinds of medical treatments.
- You may also pick someone to have "durable power of attorney" over your health care. This allows someone to make health care decisions for you if you become too sick to make those decisions yourself. This person does not need to be a lawyer.
What do I need to decide?
You will need to decide if you want treatments or machines that will make you live longer even if you will never get better. An example of this is a machine that breathes for you.
Some people do not want machines or treatments if they cannot get better. They may want food and water through a tube or pain medication. With an advance directive, you decide what medical care you want.
Talk to your doctor and family now about advance directives
You can change your mind any time about what you have written down. If you do make changes, tear up your old papers and give copies of the new forms to everyone who needs to know.