An advance directive is basically an extra layer of protection to ensure that your end-of-life wishes are met. If there ever comes a time that you are no longer able to speak for yourself, your loved ones will be able to carry out your wishes according to what you have stated in your advance directive. There are two (2) types of advance directives — the Living Will and the Healthcare Power of Attorney. Although neither is required in order to receive hospice care, we highly recommended them for patients who are facing an end-of-life illness.
According to AllLaw.com:
“A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments… It informs your health care providers and your family about your desires for medical treatment in the event you are not able to speak for yourself… Generally, a living will describes certain life prolonging treatments. You, the declarant, indicate which treatments you do or do not want applied to you in the event you either suffer from a terminal illness or are in a permanent vegetative state. A living will does not become effective unless you are incapacitated; until then you’ll be able to say what treatments you do or don’t want. ”
“For situations where you are incapacitated and therefore not able to speak for yourself, but your health is not so dire that your living will becomes effective, you should have a health care power of attorney or health care proxy. A health care power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make health care decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated. The person you designate to make health care decisions on your behalf is supposed to consider what you would want, so be sure to talk with them about it. It may be a difficult conversation, but you’re asking someone to take on a great burden for you – letting him or her know what you want lessens that burden.”
“None of these documents will do you any good if no one knows about them. You have to talk with your doctor and the person you designate as your health care proxy. Discuss with your doctor what kinds of end of life medical treatments you want. He or she can help you by answering any questions you have about certain treatments. Once you’ve decided what it is you do or don’t want, make your wishes known to your doctor and your family.”
You may access and download a copy of the “Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care” here. (File is in PDF format)