Advance directives: how to prepare

When completing your advance directives, do your research and understand what treatments you want, do not want, and any concerns you may have. This should include your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatments such as tube feeding and ventilation. Once you have determined your wishes, document them in your advance directives. Deciding which treatments and the extent of treatment you would like to receive can be difficult. For support or help making those decisions, it may be helpful to speak to your family physician, minister, rabbi, priest, counselor or a close friend.

When establishing your advance directives, it is also important to name a patient advocate that can speak on your behalf in the instance you cannot do so yourself. The person named as your patient advocate should be someone that can make difficult decisions, ask clarifying questions from medical staff, and respect and carry out your wishes. When creating advance directives, it is also good practice to have a second patient advocate named in the event your first patient advocate is unable to act on your behalf.

Once you have completed your advance directives and named a patient advocate, he or she will sign the acceptance form, indicating he or she will make decisions on your behalf and act in your best interests should you become incapacitated.

Advance directives can be created free of charge and do not require an attorney. They can also easily be submitted to a statewide registry so physicians have access to these documents. Once established, you should provide a copy of your advance directives to your family members, your primary physician, and keep a copy for yourself. Advance directives should be kept in an easily accessible location so they can be retrieved in case of a medical emergency. By establishing advance directives, you can ensure your family and patient advocate understand and honor your wishes regarding end-of-life care.

To request your free advance directives booklet from McLaren, click here:

request advance directives booklet 

Check back next week for part four of our five-part series on advance directives.