By Michelle Pudwill, FAMC Business Office

Advance directives explain how you want medical decisions to be made when you are too ill to speak for yourself. These legal documents tell your family, friends, and health care professionals what kind of health care you want and who you want to make decisions for you. A health care proxy is a document that names someone you trust to make health decisions if you cannot. This is also called a durable power of attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care appoints someone to speak for you when you are no longer able to direct your care. This could include an illness, accident, or terminal condition. If you improve and can speak for yourself, then you resume the ability to direct your care. A Living Will directs what treatment to provide or withhold when you are terminally ill. It specifies a person’s choices of life-sustaining treatment to be received should the need arise. Unlike a Durable Power of Attorney for health care, a Living Will normally does not allow for the appointment of an individual to make healthcare decisions. It tells which treatment you want if your life is threatened, including dialysis, and breathing machine, resuscitation, tube feeding, and organ or tissue donation after you die. A Living Will only becomes effective when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. You can get advanced directives from the following:

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