The importance of having a healthcare directive

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2021 | Elder Law & Estate Planning

Not many people want to think about what would happen if they were unable to make their own healthcare decisions. However, there are things like serious injuries, advanced dementia and life-limiting illnesses that can occur. 

An important part of planning for the future is to write a healthcare directive. This gives instructions as to what medical interventions you would want or not want to have. 

Healthcare directive basics

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a healthcare directive is a legal document that defines to your healthcare team what your wishes are. In the directive, you may choose to name an agent, and this is the individual who will make sure the medical providers follow through with your wants. 

It is best to be as specific as possible when you outline your wishes. You should state what your healthcare values and goals are so everyone has a better understanding. In order for the document to be legal, it needs to be in writing and state your name, the date, healthcare instructions and/or an agent appointment, your signature and verification by two witnesses or a notary. 

Specific considerations

If you have strong feelings about what instructions you want to include, you should take the time to research the options. According to the National Institute of Aging, some things to consider include: 

  • The use of a ventilator to assist with breathing 
  • The use of CPR if your heart stops beating 
  • The use of a feeding tube to assist with hydration and nutrition 
  • The type of comfort care at the end of life 

You may request where you receive care and who your medical team is. You may also state whether you want to donate your organs or tissues and state what you would like for funeral arrangements.