When you think of an advance healthcare directive, you probably think of end-of-life care. However, it’s a good idea for people of all ages to have these documents in place to ensure their wishes are known and respected in case of the worst:
- Living will.
- Durable medical power of attorney.
- Additional documents relaying your wishes.
You can create all of these documents using the Tomorrow App.
If you’re still wondering why you might need an advance directive if you’re not actively dying, here are some good reasons to get these documents together today.
If you’re in your 30s or younger, you may have never thought about an advance directive before. You’re healthy and all those decisions seem so far off in the future.
It’s uncomfortable to contemplate, but many have faced this reality during the pandemic: We are all mortal. Whether it’s an easy-to-catch, airborne virus or an unexpected car crash, our age and how much we exercise doesn’t always determine if we’ll end up in the hospital.
An advance directive allows you to make your wishes known regarding the following circumstances:
- CPR If your heart stops, do you want attempts to be made to restart it?
- Intubation If you can’t breathe on your own, do you want to be intubated?
- Dialysis If your kidneys stop working, do you want to receive dialysis?
- Feeding tubes If you cannot eat, do you want to receive nutrition through an IV?
- Life support If you’re in a coma or getting sicker with a fatal disease and are unable to communicate your wishes, at what point do you wish to stop receiving life support?
Really, you can plan for as many circumstances as you can imagine, even beyond these common tenants.
You want to pick who is making healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Even if you set up an advance directive, there is always a chance that there will be a circumstance you did not plan for. When you set up your advance directive, you’ll be able to choose who you want to make decisions on your behalf.
You may want to include this person in the discussion as you consider those difficult decisions about potential healthcare choices. It’s one thing to see your wishes on paper. It’s another to have a nuanced discussion about it with you before you’re incapacitated.
You have strong feelings about DNRs or DNIs.
As a part of your advance directive, you can specifically establish how you feel about resuscitation or intubation. If you have a do-not-resuscitate order (DNR), you will not be resuscitated if you stop breathing or your heart stops pumping.
If you have a do-not-intubate order (DNI), you will not be intubated when you can no longer breathe on your own.
You want to be an organ donor.
If you’ve decided you want to be an organ donor, you were likely invited to sign up for the registry when you applied for your state-issued ID. It’s a good idea to also include this information in your advance directive.
If you’ve left the information in your will, that is a good intention. But it’s likely to not be discovered until after it’s too late to save your organs. When included in your advance directive, the information will be readily available when doctors need it the most.
You haven’t updated your advance directive in a while.
Your advance directive is something you’ll want to update periodically throughout your life. For example, the way you feel about intubation during COVID may be different than the way you feel about intubation at the end of life. You may find out about a genetic disease or infection that makes it so you can no longer donate your organs.
When you have a healthcare epiphany, you should definitely update your advance directive. Outside of those epiphanies it’s a good idea to update it at least once every ten years.