When people become ill and discover the diseases they developed have no cure, the discussion of advance directives may arise as families gather to help decide which end-of-life care a loved one desires. These conversations are often difficult; however, discussing a loved one’s wishes regarding the final moments of his or her life can provide them with a calm and dignified passing.
The American Cancer Society notes that advance directives are most effective when decided early, and keeping a few tips in mind during the process may help those who require them to feel more confident about their decisions.
1. Name priorities
Those who create advance directives may want to consider their priorities before any other factor. These priorities may include whether the author approves life-prolonging measures in case of a massive medical emergency or whether nature should take its course. The author may want to let those close to them about these choices to avoid confusion later on.
2. Discuss the directives with a healthcare provider
Those preparing advance directives for themselves because they have a terminal illness or expect their health to fail may want to discuss the document with their doctors. This may help the author understand whether a doctor may override a directive for any reason and provide an opportunity to discuss the soundness of the details as well.
3. Provide copies to loved ones
Family members who agree to handle any portion of the advance directives in a legal document that covers one’s final wishes or medical treatment during a major emergency may feel more secure in their decisions if they have the chance to review it ahead of time. Keeping several copies on hand can keep everyone involved on the same page.
In the absence of an advance directive, family and doctors have the right to make medical decisions, so those who have specific beliefs may want to create a directive document well in advance.