An advanced directive is an important medical document that specifies what should happen to a person if they become unable to vouch for themselves. People who become comatose or otherwise incapacitated rely on their advanced directives to direct their medical care going forward. While everyone should have an advanced directive in an ideal world, many people don’t know what types of directives exist or why they should have one.
There are four types of advanced directives. A living will describes how a person wants to be treated in regard to their end-of-life care. A medical power of attorney gives a specific person the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated person. A do not resuscitate order forbids healthcare professionals from saving a person who is actively dying. A physician order for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) creates a detailed plan for a very ill patient’s care as they approach death.
If you have concerns about your health or just want to take the burden of making decisions off of specific people in your life, you can create any or all of these advanced directives with the help of a lawyer. They can help you communicate with your medical team, too.