Advance Directives: New Year, New Chance to Plan

Here’s a New Year’s resolution that puts you in control and takes a huge responsibility off your loved ones’ shoulders:

  1. Talk to your family about your end-of-life wishes

  2. Document your decisions in an advance directive, also known as a living will.

  3. Get them to think about, talk about and document their own wishes for the end of their lives.

 

Illness and death are not easy to discuss, but taking the initiative today means others won’t have to struggle to make those hard decisions for you later on. And while there’s no wrong time to address advance directives, milestone events like the holidays or the new year are opportune times to hold what-if conversations with the people you are closest to.

Questions to Ask Yourself and Others

Here are some conversation starters:

  • If you had a terminal condition and there was no reasonable probability of recovery, what kind of treatments or life-saving measures would you want? What would you refuse?
  • If you weren’t able to speak for yourself, would your loved ones know what you want? Who would you want to speak for you?

Writing Down Your Wishes

There is lots of online information to help figure out what you would want and put those wishes in writing. Search for “advance directive forms” to find free or low-cost forms that you simply fill out and sign. You don’t need a lawyer, a notary, or any government agency to make your advance directives legitimate. Three great places to start:

  • AARP.org
  • Carinfinfo.org
  • agingwithdignity.org

For more information about advance directives and end-of-life care, visit VITAS.com.