Advance directive - Have your
wishes heard when you can't
speak for yourself

An advance directive, personal directive, health care proxy, or "living will" allows you to prepare written instruction on personal matters including specific directions regarding the type of treatment by caregivers in the event that you become incapable of making those decisions in the future.

Although the focus of this web site is on LIVING with heart disease, every one of us who has heart disease should be aware of, and planning for, the future.

This includes clear direction that tells our families and medical caregivers what you DO WANT done, and what you DO NOT WANT done (in some cases choosing to refuse treatment and perhaps even food and water), in the event you cannot speak for yourself.

The laws vary by state or province, but generally the law does notallow another person to automatically make decisions for you – not even your spouse or a close relative - without your explicit directive. You have to specify your wishes in a personal or advance directive or living will.

Anyone over the age of majority can complete a personal directive. It can be made with or without the assistance of a lawyer. It becomes a legal document when it is dated, signed, and witnessed.

What if?
Becoming incapacitated from an accident can happen to anyone at any time. If you are living with heart disease, it becomes even more important for you to have a personal directive or living will.

Normally, when you are faced with medical or personal decisions, you have the right and the ability to decide for yourself. If and when you are in a condition where you are not able to make these decisions, they will be made for you by doctors, a legal guardian, or your personal agent as appointed in your personal directive.

Your personal directive will make clear your wishes about

  • whether or not you want your life prolonged by life-sustaining interventions
  • whether or not you wish to undergo CPR, be placed on a ventilator, or on intravenous antibiotics
  • where and with whom you wish to live if you are incapacitated
  • your instructions regarding your legal matters
  • your wishes regarding organ donation or donating your body for research
  • your conditions regarding a trial period of life-sustaining treatment

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