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Also known as living wills, advance directives outline predetermined actions that should be taken in regards to your health if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to incapacity or illness. These legally binding documents outline your wishes regarding life support, resuscitation and other interventions for both your health care team and your family members.
There are two different types of directives: A Living Will and a Designation of Health Care Surrogate Form, which is sometimes known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Both can be changed anytime, and you’ll want to update them periodically.
Living Will: Provides your physician instructions regarding procedures that are meant to prolong your life. Your physician and your health care surrogate are required to follow all the directives in a Living Will.
Designation of Healthcare Surrogate: Allows you to appoint another adult to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. It is usually recommended that you appoint someone who knows your wishes and is willing to carry them out, especially regarding your personal, religious, moral and cultural beliefs. If you are incapacitated, your health care surrogate will have the authority to make all the medical decisions regarding your health care, including decisions about when to withhold or withdraw life prolonging procedures.
If you establish Advance Directives, make sure members of your immediate family know about them and where they are located. You’ll also want to share a copy with your primary care physician to include as part of your medical records, and them provide a new copy if your directives change. Be sure to also bring a copy with you when you’re admitted to the hospital.
In Colorado, there are three types of documents that are recognized by the laws of the State of Colorado and qualify as "advance medical directives." Those three documents are: CPR directives, living wills and Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPOA). In Kansas, there are also three types of advance medical directives: the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, the living will, and the Do Not Resuscitate Directive. Each of those documents assist health care providers with information regarding your wishes for medical treatment should you be unable to make decisions at the time treatment is needed.
A CPR or Do Not Resuscitate Directive is a document that is signed by both you and your doctor that indicates your desire NOT to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation initiated should your breathing stop or heart stop beating. This type of directive is usually used by individuals who are elderly who are living with chronic illnesses or individuals who have critical, life threatening or terminal illnesses.
A Living Will is a document that has written instructions that state your wishes regarding artificial life support if you have a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state and are unable to tell your doctors what you would want regarding medical treatment.
An MDPOA or DPAHC is a document you sign naming someone to make your health care decisions if and when you are not able to do so. You name the person you authorize to make your health care decisions for you. It is usually made effective when you are not capable of making decisions for yourself. It is important that you communicate your wishes for health care to your appointed representative, who may be called a health care agent.
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