A healthcare directive is a general term of a document that gives instructions about your health care and appoints someone to make medical treatment decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
A living will is a document which you state your wises with respecting to life sustaining treatment if you are terminally ill or persistently unconscious.
A durable power of attorney for health care is a document by which you name someone else to make medical treatment decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. This person is called your agent or proxy.
Here are 5 Myths about Healthcare Directives, Livings Will and Healthcare Powers of Attorney in Missouri:
MYTH 1: You must have a Living Will to stop treatment near the end of life. FACTS: Treatment can be stopped without a Living Will if everyone agrees. However, with a power of attorney and living will you have named a person to make decisions (preventing disputes and disagreements) and have stated your wishes as to your healthcare in advance.
MYTH 2: An advance directive means that you should not be treated at all. FACTS: An advance directive can state both what types of treatment you want and what types you don’t want. Further, by stating you don’t want treatments done you will be given “pallative care”, which is designed to keep you pain free and comfortable.
MYTH 3: I can just wait until I am sure about what I want before signing an advance directive. FACTS: The whole point of an advance directive is that you create in advance of any problems. At the very least, you can name a healthcare agent to make decisions for you. It’s a mistake to associate medical emergencies and issues with only advanced age. See number four!
MYTH 4: Advance directives are only for the elderly. FACTS: Every adult should have an advanced directive, young or old. While it is true that the elderly use advance directives more than younger folks, it is the young that have more at stake. Why? If a younger person has a disease or condition, they might be kept alive, but in a vegetative state for years.
MYTH 5: If I complete a healthcare power of attorney, I give up the right to make my own decisions. FACTS: This is not the case as long as you are able to communicate your decisions. If you do not name an agent to make decisions if you can’t, it’s much more likely you have will have a guardian appointed by a court, which can not only cause a delay and more money, but also take the decision to appoint someone for you out of your hands and in the hands of a judge who does not know you.