What an advance medical directive is and why it matters

An advance medical directive is a straightforward document or a group of documents that details your medical wishes and preferences. A key part of the long-term care planning process, drafting an advance medical directive is something that every aging Wisconsin resident should do. If changes in your cognition, memory or communication skills occur, this document will let your care team know exactly how you want your treatment to be handled.

What does an advance medical directive include?

An advance medical directive has two primary components. These are:

  • Durable power of attorney for health care
  • Living will

Durable power of attorney for health care establishes a trusted person as a health care proxy. This person will make important medical decisions on your behalf when you’re no longer able to do so. Often referred to as an agent, surrogate or representative, a health care proxy should be someone who knows your beliefs, preferences and personality. Their familiarity with your wishes will allow them to make health care decisions that are aligned with your values and goals.

A living will maps out your preferred methods for having specific conditions, illnesses or injuries treated. If you have a progressive, age-related condition such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, having a living will can help you avoid painful, unnecessary procedures and unneeded hospitalization. This portion of your advance medical directive also enables you to state any preferences for spiritual treatment and other non-traditional therapies.

Get help drafting your advance medical directive

Advance medical directives aren’t just for the aging and infirm. Having these documents in place ensures that your medical wishes are followed if you’re in a car accident or involved any other severe event. If you have questions about drafting a living will or other long-term care planning, elder law and estate planning attorneys may help. An attorney may assist you in defining your goals for this document as well as in finding and appointing the right health care proxy. With an advance medical directive in place, you can enjoy greater peace of mind and limit future stress on your loved ones.