Glossary: Advance Healthcare Directive

If you can not make the decisions yourself, an advance directive is a legal document that explains how you want medical decisions about you to be made. An advance directive lets your health care team and loved ones know what type of health care you want, or who you wish to make choices for you when you can’t. An advance directive can allow you to think ahead of time about what type of care you would like to have. It might assist direct your family members and health care professionals in clarifying decisions about your health care when you can’t make them for yourself.

An advance directive is meant to help you prepare ahead and let others have an idea what sort of care you want. If you can’t make medical decisions on your own, it is utilized to direct your loved ones and health care team in making clear decisions about your health care. These medical decisions might consist of special actions or emergency procedures from your health care professionals.

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Advance directives only apply to health care choices and do not affect financial or money matters. The laws around advance directives are different from state to state. Talk with your health care provider (or your attorney) about completing your advance directive when you are still healthy, in case you end up being too sick or are unable to make medical choices for yourself in the future.

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