What are Advance Directives and Living Wills?
Advance Directives and Living Wills are documents in which you make known your wishes for your personal care, and for your medical treatment or non-treatment. It only comes into effect if you are found to lack capacity to make personal decisions.
Difference between an Advance Directive and a Living Will
Unlike a Living Will, Advance Directives give you the opportunity to appoint a medical proxy (a loved one or family member) to speak on your behalf should you be incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. They are also more comprehensive than a Living Will.
In a medical emergency, or any other circumstance which leaves you unable to communicate, your Advance Directive will help those responsible for your care to decide on your treatment. And it will help your loved ones to make the right decisions on your behalf.
Without an Advance Directive you may be subject to aggressive medical intervention, which you may not want to have. Or you may have a specific medical condition for which you do want all available treatment.
Planning ahead with an Advance Directive can give your principal caregiver, family members, and other loved ones peace of mind when it comes to making decisions about your future health care. It lets everyone know what is important to you, and what is not. Talking about death with those close to us is not about being ghoulish or giving up on life, but a way to ensure greater quality of life, even when faced with a life-limiting illness or tragic accident. When your loved ones are clear about your preferences for treatment, they’re free to devote their energy to care and compassion.