What Are Advance Directives?
An advance directive declares your healthcare choices and/or names someone
else to make those choices for you. It may have minimal direction about
care or be very specific, detailing your wishes regarding all types of
life-sustaining treatments. An advance directive takes effect only if
you become unable to make your own decisions. It may be changed or canceled
at any time. You do not need a lawyer to complete an advance directive,
though you may wish to consult one.
Who Can Benefit?
Anyone over the age of 18 can benefit from an advance directive. You don't
have to be old to get sick or injured.
A living will is a written or oral statement of the kind of medical care
you want or do not want in the event that you can no longer make your
own medical decisions. It is called a living will because it takes effect
while you are still living. You may wish to speak to your healthcare provider
or attorney to be certain you have completed the living will in a way
that your wishes will be understood.
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
A durable power of attorney for health care names another person to make
medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. You
can include instructions about treatment you want or do not want, similar
to a living will. Your representative must be someone you trust to make
serious decisions. The person must be at least 18 years old, clearly understand
your wishes, and be willing to accept the responsibility of making medical
decisions for you.
Providers Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
POLST is a Montana program that specifies the wishes of an individual regarding
life-sustaining treatment. It is intended for any individual with an advanced
life-limiting illness. The POLST form is portable from one care setting
to another. In a healthcare facility, the form is a part of the patient's
medical record. In a noninstitutionalized setting such as a home, the
form should be located in a prominent location. It will be recognized
by emergency personnel as orders to be followed. If you have a signed
POLST form, it is recommended that you also have an advance directive,
though it is not required. You can get a POLST form from your physician
or other healthcare provider.
NOTE: If you previously had a Comfort One, it will still be honored by
emergency personnel, but you should have it updated by a physician.