Advance Directives refer to legal documents that specify the kind of medical treatment you want if you are unable to speak for yourself. Some Advance Directives include Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney.
Living Will also referred to as “Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death”, details what types of medical treatment you want at the end of life if you are unable to speak for yourself. Before a Living Will can be acted upon, a physician has to determine that you are terminal or in a persistent vegetative state. Typically, this means you have lost the ability to think or reason and will die if the artificial means of keeping you alive is removed.
Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone (called a proxy) to make your health care decisions when you can’t communicate for yourself. Your proxy should be someone who knows you well and would be willing to carry out the directions regardless of personal feelings or influence from family and friends. They must be 18 or older. After you select your proxy, discuss your Living Will or health care decisions with them to be sure they clearly understand your wishes and are willing to accept the responsibility. You can appoint a second or third person in case the proxy is unable, unwilling, or unavailable to act for you.
Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment is a legal document that tells physicians and mental health providers what mental health treatments you would want and what treatments you would not want if you are unable to decide for yourself.