Before surgery, in fact, just as a general rule, each of us, no matter our age, should have at least a living will and durable power of attorney (advance directives) for health care in place. I recently had a close friend who was hurt in an accident, and once again I have watched the struggles of family members trying to care for a loved one without these documents.
I would urge everyone to have all of their affairs in place, but at the very least, they should have these two documents.
Quoted from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/:
“What are advance directives?
In certain surgeries, where significant risks are involved, hospital staff may encourage you to prepare “advance directives.” Advance directives are legal documents that state a patient’s preference in treatment and resuscitation–if the patient is unable to speak for himself or herself. There are two types of advance directives:
- Living will. This document states a patient’s wishes in the withholding or withdrawing of life support, if the patient suffers from an incurable and terminal condition and cannot make decisions about his or her treatment.
- Durable power of attorney for health care. This document designates another person to make health care decisions if the patient is no longer able to make them. This designated person, called an attorney-in-fact, also has the power to make the final decision about cessation of treatment.”