If you want to have a say in what medical treatments you receive in the event you are in an incapacitated state, you should prepare an advance directive. This legal document outlines procedures and treatments you want or want to avoid.
You can also name an agent as part of the directive. This individual can make decisions for you based on what you want.
What to include in an advance directive
According to the Alameda County Government, there are a variety of things you can address in the advance directive. Some of these include:
- Pain relief use
- End-of-life decisions
- Organ or tissue donation
- Physician designation
You can also write in your own wishes or add additional instructions.
How to choose an agent
You should take the time to choose an agent, as he or she will be the one making the actual decisions if you are unable to do so. Choose someone who you trust and who will follow your wishes, no matter what. This individual should be able to make decisions quickly and under pressure and not be afraid to ask questions if necessary. He or she should also be able to stand up to anyone who is in disagreement with your wishes.
Share your decisions with the agent
Once you have chosen an agent, UCLA Health encourages you to discuss your wishes with him or her. You can go over what you have filled in on the directive, but it also helps to talk about your values and religious beliefs. Knowing why you made the choices you did will help your agent make hard decisions that the advance directive perhaps did not address.
If you want to, you can also limit the agent’s authority to make certain decisions. It is also a good idea to name an alternate agent.