For some individuals, a health care directive is something they only consider when they receive a serious medical diagnosis. It is common for physicians and counselors to recommend the creation of an advanced medical directive or health care directive for those dealing with serious conditions like cancer, as well as fatal or progressive diseases.
While people may spend more time thinking about their medical needs and the benefits of a living will when facing a serious condition that requires aggressive treatment, severe medical conditions aren’t the most compelling reason to create a health care directive.
If you don’t state your wishes, people can’t follow them
People have different medical wishes and needs. Everything from your experience watching a parent battle cancer to your faith can influence the kind of medical intervention that you would like to receive.
If you don’t have an advance medical directive, other people may have to make decisions about your care for you, and those decisions may not align with your preferences. By taking the time to think about what care you would like to receive in different scenarios, you can provide comprehensive guidance for those who will have to make those decisions if you can’t make them for yourself.
Leaving clear instructions will also help your loved ones
If there is anything more stressful than the obligation to make immediate medical decisions for a loved one who is so sick or injured that they can’t speak for themselves, it is probably needing to make those decisions without any guidance from the patient.
If you talked about your opinions about medical care, like life support, with loved ones years ago, they may not remember the conversation anymore. Even if you have recently discussed your preferences, times of intense stress can affect someone’s recall and mental clarity. Your health care directive will protect your loved ones from a lifetime of second-guessing the decisions they make on your behalf by making it clear what your wishes are and how they can follow them.
No one is too young or too healthy to benefit from a living will and health care directive. Although people may never need to use it, having it and never needing it is far better than being in a situation where one would benefit you and not having one on record.