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If you become an inpatient or receive outpatient treatment, hospital staff will speak to you about an Advance Directive. This document will allow you to decide who should speak for you and what medical decisions they should make in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself (for example, if you are unconscious, or in any way too sick to make your wishes known).
Your voice will be heard through this document, especially regarding the choice of your health care agent, who is sometimes known as a “medical decision maker” or “health care proxy.” Who do you trust? Who will honor your wishes and respect your stated choices? This is the person you will want to name in your Advanced Directive.
An Advance Directive also will allow you to describe what kind of care you would want if you have an illness from which you are unlikely to recover. This is sometimes referred to as a “Living Will,” because it specifically concerns end of life care issues. When you decide to complete this or any part of an Advance Directive, be sure to talk about it with those close to you. The conversation is just as important as the document.
Life threatening illness is a difficult subject to contemplate. If you plan now, however, your choices will be respected, and your loved ones will be relieved of some of the burden of decision making.
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