If you already have an advance directive, also called a living will, than you are ahead of the curve! According to a 2013 survey of adults over the age of 18, less than 1/3 of adults have an advance directive. The purpose of an advance directive is to document the type of care you want or don’t want, based on your values and goals for care if you suddenly couldn’t speak for yourself. Reviewing your advance directive occasionally is important because your values and goals for care change over time. As they do, you want to ensure that your advanced directive reflects these changes.
Here are 5 times to consider updating your advance directive:
What makes your life worth living at age 80 may be very different from what made life worth living at age 50. Your definition of “living well” changes as you age and your goals for care may also change.
If you have recently separated or divorced and your former partner was listed as your primary, secondary, or tertiary Healthcare Agent, you may want consider if he or she is still the best person to make decisions on your behalf.
Decline in health
People with chronic health conditions like heart disease or COPD can become sicker, need additional medical interventions or even a stay in the Intensive Care Unit. Each time your health changes, even if you recover, your goals for care may also change.
When you are diagnosed with a new health condition you’ll want to consider what the progression of that illness looks like and what types of treatment options you may be presented with.
Death of a loved one
The experience of losing a loved one often teaches us about the type of care we’d want, or not want, to receive near the end of life.
When updating your advance directive, you can cross off or write in any changes you’d like to make. You will want to initial and date the changes, as you would on any other legal form. You can also fill out a new advance directive to replace your outdated form. Either way, be sure to give all the pages of your advance directive to your doctor and healthcare agent, not just the pages where you have made changes. This way you can be sure they have the entire document.
If you’d like to learn more about advance directives or get help filling out or updating yours, you can contact the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center’s health educators at: email@example.com.