Vancouver Home Health Care Agency

Advance Directives

Should I Bother with Advance Directives? They Seem Like So Much Work!

Should you bother with advance directives? The answer is overwhelmingly, YES! While it’s true they are a lot of work, the overall work involved benefits everyone in the big picture. The good news is that there are a number of options available for advance directives, and research has proven that these documents ensure individuals with the documents have their wishes carried out better than those without. An advance directive is a legal obligation, and professionals will not stray from these documents, as they could be sued if they do anything not on the documents.

Filling out advance directives before urgent care is needed is a good idea. Advance directives are meant to be completed while the person is of sound mind, so the decisions documented are as close to the person’s real wishes as possible. The documents, when signed, are bound by the law and are believed to be the full expression of what the person wants when he or she is unconscious or near the end of life.

Luckily, there are a number of different documents from which to choose; use one or use a combination.

Living Will

The living will records a patient’s desires if a crisis arises which prevents the patient from voicing his or her personal decisions. It is the most common of these documents, and it is very specific in the patient’s wishes. It will only be used if the patient can no longer make decisions alone.

Physician Orders

This is similar to the living will, and expresses a patient’s end-of-life wishes. However, the living will only needs to be notarized; this document must be written by a physician and signed by the same physician. The physician must discuss all points in this document with the patient.

Durable Power of Attorney

This document states who will be able to speak for a patient who cannot speak for him or herself. This person can be a family member, a friend, a lawyer, or a county appointed professional. Physicians may even agree to be the power of attorney for a patient. The document records the patient’s wishes, but unlike the other documents, the patient does not need to be diagnosed as terminal for the document to be enacted. The power of attorney often saves families from arguing and feeling resentment for the decision of one person who may not understand the person’s full wishes. It also stops lawsuits such as the battle endured by the family of Terri Schiavo.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

This advance directive specifically tells medical personnel that the patient does not resuscitation methods, such as CPR, breathing tubes, or other life saving methods. It is only used if the individual becomes unconscious. For example, a person having a heart attack with a DNR will not receive life-saving chest compressions.

The Vancouver Home Health Care Agency is happy to help you sort through the paperwork available.
At Vancouver Home Health Care Agency, Caring and Compassion is our business.

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