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More and more, we hear about the need for advance planning for our medical care. If you were in a situation where you were unable to express your wishes, what kind of care would you want at the end of your life? Advance directives are legal documents that give family, friends, and health care providers information about your end of life wishes. Having advance directives in place can help avoid confusion and stress in an emergency.
The most common advance directives are:
- durable power of attorney for health care,
- living will, and
- pre-hospital do not resuscitate.
In Kansas, an attorney is not needed to complete these documents but you must have witnesses sign them. For more details on completing these legal documents, refer to a new K-State Research and Extension publication Advance Health Care Planning in Kansas.
Advance directives can be a difficult topic to both contemplate and discuss. Here are some steps to help.
- Gain more understanding of each option from your physician, health care providers, financial providers or your attorney.
- Discuss your personal preferences with family, friends or a religious advisor. At any point, you can change your preferences, and revise your documents.
- If this is difficult for you to bring up with your loved ones here are a few ideas to try.
- You can write a letter expressing your desire to discuss this topic.
- Show them copies of the forms, emphasizing the importance of the subject to you.
- If you are really uncomfortable, you can hire an attorney to facilitate the discussion.
- Or ask a trusted friend to assist with the discussion.
- Once the forms are completed, make copies, hand them out to family, trusted friends, hospital, and physician. Finally store extra copies in your important files, purse, and glove box of your car.
Review more information on advance directives at: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3280.pdf.