One of the things we must consider as we age is our medical care preferences. Are there procedures or machines we are uncomfortable with? Are there specific treatments we prefer over others?
It is possible for anyone to make their wishes known well ahead of time, offering a level of certainty while ensuring loved ones and medical professionals won’t have to simply guess. Yet a huge number of aging Coloradans have not taken this crucial step.
The power of an advance directive
Nearly 250,000 Colorado residents age 65 or above do not have what is called an advance directive – that’s about one-third of the older population in the state, according to one study. Why is this important? Because an advance directive allows someone to communicate their medical preferences if they become unable to do so themselves.
This can include:
- The selection of a trusted loved one to make certain medical decisions on your behalf
- Whether you consent to the use of artificial life support machines
- If you want medical professionals or emergency responders to perform CPR
- Which treatment options you would like to use – or avoid
With a comprehensive set of documents, it’s possible to not only make sure your own preferences are followed, but also eliminate the potential for any tense disagreements among loved ones.
Types of advance directives
An advance directive is not necessarily a single document. There are actually a few different types.
A medical durable power of attorney, for example, lets you appoint an agent should you become incapacitated. This agent – usually a trusted family member or loved one – is then tasked with making medical decisions on your behalf, but only according to your wishes. This power can be very narrow or quite broad, as it is customizable.
Other types of advance directives include:
- Living will: Directions regarding artificial life support preferences
- CPR order: Your preference regarding the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- MOST form: Medical Orders for Scope and Treatment (MOST) are specific treatment directions, commonly used for those who are chronically ill
These different tools can all work in concert with one another. When prepared correctly, they can account for most situations and provide assurance to everyone in your life. Nobody will have to worry about what you do or do not want, because you have already made it quite clear.