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Understanding Different Kinds of Advance Directives

By Erik Gans, 9:00 am on

An advance directive is a legal document that informs health care professionals about a person’s wishes in regards to the care he or she receives. Advance directives can be very simple and merely designate a proxy to make decisions on a person’s behalf if he or she cannot or they can be very in-depth and outline the types of care a person would and would not accept. While there are many types of advance directives, the two most common are the health care power of attorney and the living will.

Living Will

A living will is a legal document that spells out a person’s medical wishes should he or she become unable to make decisions on their own. A living will typically goes into effect if a person cannot make decisions and has a terminal illness or is in a persistent vegetative state. With a living will, a person may specify which life-prolonging treatments may be given and when they should be ended.

According to Fairfield senior home care professionals, a living will can be revoked at any time and some states automatically void living wills after a specific number of years. Keep in mind that this legal document can’t cover every medical situation that may come up and it cannot be used to designate someone who will make decisions on a person’s behalf.

Health Care Power of Attorney

Also known as a durable power of attorney, this document allows a person to name someone to be a proxy and make health care decisions on his or her behalf if he or she is unable to do so. The proxy will have the right to speak with doctors and care providers on a person’s behalf and make decisions based on any directions previously given. While the proxy will base these decisions on any written instructions provided, they will also make decisions based on what they think a person would want if his or her wishes are unknown. There are some restrictions on what a health care proxy can and cannot do. In some states, a proxy cannot stop IV hydration or feeding, for example.

A health care power of attorney and living will can be used together to give a person peace of mind and ensure his or her wishes will be carried out by someone he or she trusts.

As your senior loved one plans for the future, be sure to ask him or her about long-term home care. While he or she may be in excellent health, it’s never too early to plan for the unexpected. To learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Care Assistance. We offer hourly and live-in care as well as dementia and Fairfield Alzheimer’s care and would be happy to answer any questions you and your loved one may have. You can speak to a dedicated Care Manager by calling 203-955-1915 today. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.