The importance of an advance directive

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Carl S. Goode |

An advance directive gives others directions as to what medical care and life-sustaining treatments you would want in the event you are in a state of incapacitation. An advance directive is beneficial in that you are in control of your healthcare even when you are mentally or physically unable to make decisions.

According to the State of Louisiana Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, there are three types of advance directions: Louisiana Physician Order for Scope of Treatment, power of attorney and living will.

LaPOST document

A LaPOST document is only if you have a serious condition in which physicians expect you will live for less than one year. The document directs physicians as to what type of medical care you would want.

Power of attorney

The healthcare power of attorney and living will are the most commonly used advance directives. A POA is a legal document in which you name an individual, or agent, who will make healthcare decisions for you if you are in an incapacitated state. You can indicate which specific decisions your agent can make on your behalf, or you can grant him or her the ability to make all healthcare decisions. You can revoke a power of attorney at any time by putting it in writing.

Living will

According to the Mayo Clinic, a living will only applies to life-sustaining procedures, such as artificial hydration and nutrition, CPR, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, comfort care, medication and organ or tissue donation. A living will only goes into effect if you have a terminal condition, and two attending physicians agree that you have an irreversible condition.

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