An advanced healthcare directive made out to tackle any health problems will kick in the event where you are temporarily or permanently unable to make your own decisions due to any physical or mental conditions. Such a directive should be made thoughtfully, and if you want it to be truly effective, the following steps will tell you how.
• Plan the Contents: The first and most important thing when setting out to make an advanced directive is to decide how you want your treatment to be handled for the period when you cannot take a call. Your wishes can be generalized for accidents or ill-health or can specify particular ailments and medications, and the extent to which invasive treatment or life-sustaining techniques should be administered or even end-of-life wishes. The content will vary depending on your age, unique circumstances, or any particular wishes that you may have.
• Type of Directive: Next you will have to choose the kind of directive you want to have. You can make a set of instructions referred to as a living will or can appoint an agent or proxy to take decisions on your behalf by creating a power of attorney specifically for healthcare. However the most effective way is to combine both in the advanced directive to make it more effective in different conditions.
• Communicate: Before you finalize the directive you must talk to your doctor or any healthcare personnel who will not only tell you about the different aspects of such a directive but also the pros and cons of specific treatments, and how they can affect you in the future. In addition to the doctor you must speak with your family and take them into complete confidence so that there is no confusion when the time comes.
• Preparing the Directive: Once your mind is clear you can proceed to put down your directive on paper. At times a state may have a set of advanced healthcare directive forms that you can fill, but these may be too generalized in which case you can create your own directive to be more specific and customized. Most directives will require your signature along with those of two other witnesses, however you must find out for any other requirement of your particular region. Personnel at the healthcare facility can provide you with the proper guidance or may alternatively direct you to professionals who are well trained for such purposes.
• Pass on the Directive: The last but equally important step is to provide the concerned people with a copy of the directive. Ask your doctor to place the directive in your medical file so that anyone dispensing treatment at that time will be aware of your wishes. Also make sure your appointed agent has one and is thoroughly briefed about the contents. Finally make sure your family or close friends have a copy too.
One more thing to remember is that the advanced healthcare directive is a document that can be changed whenever you wish. Periodically you must review its contents and make the necessary changes to maintain its effectiveness.
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