If you or a loved one are living in an assisted living facility, it’s important to take measures to protect your healthcare wishes legally. Aging adults need to prepare for medical decisions they may be unable to make in the future, and advance healthcare directives can help. Having an advance healthcare directive in place is recommended for all assisted living residents, and here’s a closer look at what you need to know to get this legal tool in place.
What is an Advanced Healthcare Directive?
An advance healthcare directive, sometimes referred to as a living will and in some cases paired with a healthcare power of attorney, is a legal document that helps you prepare for incapacitating medical conditions and end-of-life medical decisions. This document allows you to make know your preferences to medical providers and decisions makers, and also may authorize an individual to speak on your behalf. If you are unable to speak for yourself, an advance health care directive is the best legal tool to keep your healthcare wishes protected.
How Advance Healthcare Directives Work
Advance healthcare directives offer assisted living residents protection in a couple of different ways, including:
- Decisions on Specific Types of Healthcare – This may include deciding whether you want artificially administered water or food, comfort care, artificial care that prolongs life, etc. Making these decisions clarifies your wishes for medical providers and family members.
- Naming a Healthcare Agent – You have the ability to designate an agent who has the legal power to act on your behalf, ensuring your wishes are carried out and making other healthcare decisions that may not have been specified within the advance directive.
Benefits of Having an Advanced Healthcare Directive
Approximately 25% of adults over age 60 will need the help of a surrogate decision maker at some point, so it’s important for assisted living residents to have advanced directives to ensure their care is carried out according to their wishes. These legal documents also help ensure quality of life during terminal illness and allow patients to retain greater control over their care. You’ll also take some of the burden off your loved ones with this document, laying out your plans for care instead of leaving loved ones to try to guess about your wishes.
Filing Advance Healthcare Directives
It’s important to keep your original copies of the advance healthcare directive in a safe place, but you also need to give copies to the following:
- Your named agent and alternate agent
- Your assisted living facility
- All your regular doctors (this should be included in your medical records)
- Any healthcare facilities that treat you
- Family members or close friends if desired
- Your lawyer