An advanced health directive can allow your aging parents to clarify their wishes about medical orders like DNR (do not attempt resuscitation) or POLST (physical orders for life-sustaining treatment).
Simply put, advance directives empower older adults to make known their medical treatment decisions and health care wishes in advance of the end of their life. Moreover, advance care planning can give your family peace of mind and ensure healthcare providers and caregivers have clear guidance for end-of-life care and emergencies.
The components of advance directives
The first component of an advance directive is a living will. This document stipulates the types of medical treatment an individual would like to receive or avoid. It addresses critical scenarios, such as:
- Life-sustaining measures
- Organ donation
Helping your aging parents create a clear and concise living will can ensure that their healthcare preferences are explicitly articulated.
The second component is a durable power of attorney, which grants a trusted individual the authority to make health care decisions on behalf of your aging parents. Choosing the right health care proxy is crucial, as this person will be responsible for ensuring the wishes expressed in the living will are honored.
The importance of advance directives
One of the primary benefits of advance directives is the preservation of personal autonomy. Like anyone else, aging parents want to maintain control over their health care decisions. Documenting their preferences can ensure that their values and beliefs guide their medical treatment, even when they can no longer communicate.
In times of medical crisis, families often face challenging decisions. Advance directives serve as a roadmap, relieving family members of the burden of making difficult choices without clear guidance. These directives can prevent family disputes and ensure a more harmonious decision-making process.
Advance directives are not just legal documents but a profound expression of personal values and autonomy. By proactively engaging in conversations about these directives with your aging parents, you empower them to shape their healthcare journey in alignment with their desires.