Medical advanced directives ensure that your medical treatment aligns with your values and wishes. While many people understand how they work for issues like lifesaving interventions, advanced directives can address many other issues as well.
Severe injury and late-stage terminal disease are far from the only situations where someone is incapable of making medical decisions for themselves in real-time. A directive can make sure that you receive appropriate care whenever your ability to communicate gets compromised.
Goals and values
It is not uncommon to include a section that expresses your overall healthcare goals and values. This allows you to provide context for your medical decisions. If a situation arises where your healthcare proxy is not present or does not know what you would want, this statement can provide guidance.
Pain management and comfort care
Discuss your preferences for pain management and comfort care. Mention if you have any concerns about pain relief methods that doctors might choose post-surgery in an emergency. This is an important item for people who are avoiding certain methods of pain treatment as well as those who have chronic pain issues, and it is useful for anyone else with specific wishes about pain control.
Allergies and medical conditions
Allergies, medications and medical conditions that could affect your treatment are all important pieces of information for doctors. If you do not have the ability to tell them, it is a good idea to document them alongside your other wishes. This way, you do not need a healthcare proxy to remember everything in the moment. Allergies are extremely common and can be life-threatening. Almost a third of all adults in the U.S. have some form of allergy.
Mental health treatment
Include your preferences for mental health treatment, such as the use of psychiatric medications or specific therapies. Like pain management, this is an area of your health where an assertion of boundaries, values and goals can help guide your treatment even in situations that are not life-threatening. This is especially true if you have a medical history in this area that doctors should take into account.
By including all these components, you can provide clear guidance to your healthcare providers and loved ones on any important healthcare topics you choose.