Advanced Directives: Not just for the elderly

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 8:04 PM EDT
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April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day created to teach the importance of letting others know your wishes, should you become ill and unable to make your own healthcare choices. In this week’s Medical Monday, Kathy McCarty explains Advanced Directives and what they cover.

Advanced Directives aren’t just for the elderly, says Family Nurse Practitioner Judi Pimental. It’s a common misconception.

“A lot of people think, you know, it’s for when I’m old and when I’m sick, and really it’s not. It’s for when you’re young and you’re healthy and you need to designate somebody to make decisions for you when you really can’t,” says Judi Pimental, Family Nurse Practitioner with Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital.

Advanced Directives are common paperwork in doctors’ offices and hospitals, and are kept with your medical records.

Pimental says, “Inside the packet it asks you questions like your Power of Attorney for healthcare. And what that really means is that you’re just - you’re not giving anybody the power to make decisions for you when you’re able but when you’re unable. So you put your name and all your information and then the person that you’re naming and their relationship to you. And it doesn’t have to be a family member. That’s the other thing that people get confused about. You can name anybody that you trust to do your Advanced Directive.”

Let people know you’ve appointed them. Under the directive, you can specify when you want the person to take over making decisions, whether you want to be kept alive, and what measures you approve.

“If you choose to be kept living, what does that look like for you? If you’re gonna be in a vegetative state, what do you want done? Do you want tube feeding, do you want IV nutrition, or all of those things that can sustain life when there’s really no brain activity or chance of survival without machinery,” says Pimental.

You can specify if you want medication for pain relief, if you wish to donate organs, as well as your wishes for funeral and burial arrangements. Pimental recommends Advanced Directives for everyone, once you become old enough to manage your own health.

“Accidents happen, things happen that we can’t anticipate, car crashes, plane crashes, illnesses that we - that, you know, that come up. And when those sudden-like things happen, it complicates things greatly for the people that are left behind because they don’t know what to do,” says Pimental.

For more information on Advanced Directives, contact your primary care provider. Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

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