What is an advance directive?

It does not matter what age you are, all adults in Michigan should have an advance directive. This includes legal instructions for what decisions should be made medically if you are unable to do so yourself. Hopefully it will never be needed, but in the event you are in an extreme medical situation it is an important document.

According to Michigan Medicine, there are two types of directives in the state. One is a Do-Not-Resuscitate Declaration and the other is the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. These two directives, combined with a living will, assists the patient advocate in making treatment choices that align with the patient’s wishes. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of circumstances an advanced directive can assist with. These include when you are:

  • Seriously injured
  • Terminally ill
  • In a coma
  • Near life’s end
  • In the late stages of Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia

The person you choose to carry out your treatment desires may be referred to as a patient advocate; or health care proxy, agent, surrogate, attorney-in-fact or representative. Once you have chosen a trusted person who is willing to follow your instructions, there are a number of things to consider and make decisions about. One consideration is if you want to be resuscitated, and this should also be mentioned in your will. Other considerations include:

  • Antiviral or antibiotic medication
  • Tube feeding 
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Palliative care
  • Dialysis
  • Donating your body to science
  • Tissue or organ donation

These life-preserving methods can take a lot of thought, and it is a good idea to consult your medical doctor and family members before making your decisions.