What is an Advanced Directive? And Why Should I Have One?

It’s no secret, the healthcare field can be tricky to navigate. There are so many different things that encompass the different routes and roads that you have to take to make sure you or your loved one is taken care of. If the healthcare field were a map- one of the main roads would be an Advanced Directive.

Advanced Directives are legal documents that allow you to plan and make your own wishes known, in the event that you are unable to communicate. Advanced Directives are basically broken into two parts- a living will and medical or healthcare power of attorney. A living will describes your wishes in regards to the medical care you’ll receive. The medical or healthcare power of attorney, allows you to appoint a person to make healthcare decisions for- just in case you are unable to speak for yourself. You may hear this as the term DPOA, or “durable power of attorney,” or even “healthcare proxy.” These are all interchangeable terms, but they carry the same weight.

This document goes into effect when your physician declares that you are unable to make your own medical decisions. With that being said, you should select someone you trust. Such as a close family member, or a best friend that understands your wishes. Make sure the person that you pick is confident about the medical care that you wish to receive.  

Having an Advanced Directive on file with your primary care physician ensures that you are treated the way you want to be treated. It can be broken down into three main things:

  • How decisions about treatment are made
  • Who speaks for the patient when the patient cannot speak for themselves
  • What treatments the person would want or not want

“So often we are forced to be reactive, instead of proactive, when dealing with these situations. If someone gets sick, or an accident happens, you are going to want your doctors to know what you would like them to do. You also are going to want to have someone you can trust be able to speak for you.  In my opinion, everyone over the age of 21-years-old should have an Advanced Directive on file. It’s an unfortunate reality that at some point we are going to end up at the hospital in our lifetime. I want to make sure my ducks are in a row before I get there,” says Nick Carroll. Nick is the Post-Acute Patient Consultant for Phoenix Home Care & Hospice.

“So often we run into people that don’t have these documents completed, and it’s such an easy process,” Carroll says. “If you come up to Stormont Vail Hospital April 9th were going to help everyone get this document setup and finished.”

“I have had one (an Advanced Directive) since I was 25.” Says Morgan Bell the Palliative Medicine Social Worker at Stormont Vail Hospital. “This isn’t just for people that are sick, it’s for everyone. It’s the best gift you can give to your loved ones. It helps take the burden off of them, and instead, lets them use the road map that you have laid out for them.”

If you would like to learn more about Advanced Directives, contact Phoenix Home Care & Hospice.


Phoenix Home Care & Hospice

2945 SW Wanamaker Dr., Suite B

Topeka, KS 66614





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