An advanced directive is a document or documents in which you record your healthcare wishes in the event you are unable to make that decision at the time of treatment. They can be general and describe treatments you would or would not like. They can also be more specific and spell out what medical care you would like to receive in conjunction with the severity of the illness/injury (i.e. coma, ventilator, etc). There are different types of advanced directives including: Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Do Not Resuscitate Order.
A Living Will is a written, legal document expressing your desire of life sustaining treatments. It is especially helpful in the case of a serious and / or terminal illness. You can determine what type of treatment you would like in specific situations.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) for Healthcare
A DPA for Healthcare is an extremely useful tool that is activated when you are rendered unconscious or unable to make a decision and are in need of medical services. Your appointed agent will participate in discussions with your healthcare providers, weigh the pros and cons and make your treatment decisions based on your wishes. This advanced directive is used if your ability will only be temporarily affected.
Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)
A DNR is a directive that states what efforts / level of care you would or would not want in the event of cardiac (heart) or pulmonary (breathing) arrest. A DNR does not necessarily imply no medical treatment, just no resuscitation will be given. This document needs to be discussed with your physician and made a part of your medical file.
Myths About Advanced Directives
There are many myths about Advanced Directives:
I am healthy, why do I need an Advanced Directive?
An accident or serious illness can effect anyone at any time. Thinking about this in advance gives you the chance to discuss options and concerns with your family and physician to make sure your decisions are right for you.
Aren't Advanced Directives for "old" people?
Advanced Directives are for all ages. In fact, stakes may be higher for younger people if an accident or serious accident occurs, they could potentially be kept alive for decades in a condition they did not wish to be.
Don't all Advanced Directives mean "Don't Treat"?
Not only do advanced directives dictate what measures a person does not want, they also include the treatment options a person would like to receive. It is a chance for a person to express their personal values and wishes for their healthcare decisions. Even if the life-sustaining treatments are limited by your advanced directives, you will still receive other treatments that will help you with pain control and comfort.
State of Iowa Advanced Directives Form
5 Wishes Booklet from Aging with Dignity
Floyd Valley Hospital
714 Lincoln Street NE
Le Mars, IA 51031
712-546-3478 or 1-800-642-6074 x478 from 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
712-546-3378 or 1-800-642-6074 x378 after 3 p.m.