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Advance Medical Directives -  Something to Think About

What are advance medical directives? They are a living will or a durable power of attorney for health care. Either allows you to give directions about your future medical care. It is your right to accept or refuse medical care. Advance directives can protect this right if you ever become mentally or physically unable to choose or communicate your wishes due to an injury or illness. Why learn about advance directives? Because they are valuable tools, advance directives can help:

YOU - protect your right to make medical choices that can affect your life.

YOUR FAMILY - avoid the responsibility and stress of making difficult decisions.

YOUR PHYSICIAN - provides guidelines for your care.

Advance Directives can limit life-prolonging measures when there's little or no chance of recovery. Advance directives may enable one to make their feelings known about many things. It is important to know the Definitions of commonly used words in healthcare:

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) - used to restore breathing and/or heartbeat. A phrase used for some one who does not want CPR is DNR or Do Not Resuscitate.

Intravenous (IV) Therapy - used to provide nutrients, water, and/or medication through a tube in a vein.

Feeding Tubes - inserted through the nose, throat or abdomen to provide nutrition.

Respirators - machines used to keep individuals breathing

Dialysis - a method of cleaning an individualís blood by machine, when the kidneys no longer work properly.

Let your values be your guide when creating advance directives. Consider what is important to you.

Which of these statements express how you would feel if you were near death? It is important for me to:

  • die without pain and suffering.
  • leave my family with good memories.
  • act according to my religious beliefs.
  • be able to make my own decisions.
  • not burden my family with difficult decisions.
  • be with my loved ones at death.

Discuss your wishes with your family and friends, your physician, your faith community leader, your lawyer.

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