Advance directives are documents that give instructions about your health care and can also be used to appoint someone to make medical treatment decisions for you when you are not able to make them yourself. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on.
One study shows that at least 60% of individuals WANT to have their end-of-life wishes to be respected, yet only one-third have completed the paperwork. So why don’t you have an advance directive yet?
The top ten reasons we avoid completing the advance directive paperwork seem to be:
- We do not know about advance directives, or are confused by the names of the different forms.
- We think we are too young or too healthy to need an advance directive.
- We think it will be too emotional or unpleasant to consider.
- We do not want to think about dying. Ever.
- We assume our family will do what we want without having to talk about it.
- We assume our health care providers will do the right thing and that “right thing” will coincide with what we want.
- We are afraid that if we have an advance directive, we will not have control over our lives.
- We do not know where to find the forms or we think we need an attorney to write them up.
- We think an advance directive means “do not treat” or “pull the plug.”
- We do not think we know enough about what might happen in the future to make a decision now.
None of these is a very convincing argument when you consider what might happen if you do not have the document in place. The paperwork is easy. You can change it at any time. See this document from the American Bar Association for other myths and facts about advance directives.
Luckily, there are many resources available to make it easy. You can download the Five Wishes document right now by clicking here. You can also accomplish the same goal with the My Directives documents here. And if you just want to start the conversation with family members, see The Conversation Project here.
Why don’t you have an advance directive yet? Five short questions and you are done. Take the time and do it today!