The thought of being unable to voice your own wishes due to physical or mental inability is an unpleasant one many people shy away from. However, the possibility is one you need to consider and plan for.
If you fail to do so, you may find your medical fate in the hands of those you may not want it in, such as the physician or an ethics committee. By setting certain documents in place, you help ensure the fulfillment of your medical decisions even if you at some point are no longer able to express them.
Advance care directive
This is a document where you spell out your directions for end-of-life care and treatments you do or do not give permission for. This may include:
- Feeding tube placement and use
- Ventilator use
- Antibiotics use
- Pain management
- Life-sustaining treatment application
You may also specify if you do not want your body or organs to end up as donations.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney grants a trusted individual the right to make certain decisions for you. It may be temporary or long-term and may cover many areas or just a specific one, such as finances. You can designate a medical power of attorney to oversee your medical affairs and make important choices for you if you ever become physically (unconscious, in a coma, etc.) or mentally incapable of doing so. This also prevents someone you did not select and may not trust from taking on this role.
It is imperative to perform advance care planning regardless of your age. A medical emergency can occur at any time, and having your affairs planned out helps ensure the carrying out of your wishes.