Advance Directives allow health care providers to make decisions related to your care when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself, due to illness. Often, hospitals ask you to sign an Advance Directive upon admission. There are two major types of Advance Directives.
A living will instructs health care providers what healthcare treatments you want (or don’t want) in specific cases. We don’t recommend signing a Living Will because it is almost impossible to predict all possible scenarios and treatments choices. A living will is easily misinterpreted. Often times the template for Living Wills are formulated by pro-euthanasia groups.
Durable Power of Attorney, or Medical Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is a “proxy” directive. It is a legal document in which you select someone you trust as a health care agent for you. It is important that you discuss in detail what type of treatment you want if you become unable to direct your own care. Avoid making blank statements such as ‘no machines’ or ‘no tubes.’ Feeding tubes, for instance, may be used in short term care, to insure long term health and recovery. A sample of Maine’s Durable Power of Attorney/Will to Live form is available here. Consult your attorney for more information, or National Right to Life's Will to Life Project here.