You may have heard a lot about the importance of creating an advanced healthcare directive whether in the form of instructions or appointing a person, so that the desired line of treatment can be followed if you are not in a position to take your own decisions at a future date. However there are a number of misconceptions surrounding this concept which can put doubts in your mind.
The following will address some of the more common myths about an advanced healthcare directive.
Myth 1 - Only older people need to make an advanced directive
Illness and accidents can happen to anyone old or young; in fact the advances in the medical field may end up keeping a younger person alive for years without any improvement. Ideally any individual above the age of 18 must make a directive or appoint an agent.
Myth 2 - A directive is meant to stop treatment
An advanced directive is prepared to express your wishes and can include directions to stop treatment as well as those to carry on a specific treatment in certain cases. Also you can customize it in a way where invasive treatment may be stopped but certain pain relievers may be administered to ensure comfort.
Myth 3 - Appointing an agent takes away the right to make personal decisions
This is a common fear faced by many and is completely misplaced. Remember that such a directive comes into effect only when you are not in a position to decide for yourself due to a certain health condition. Furthermore when you regain capacity to make decisions you can override the agent's decision and also modify the rights or revoke them completely.
Myth 4 - It is best to wait if you are unsure about the contents of the directive
Everyone has at least a broad idea about the way their treatment should be done incase such a situation arises. Accordingly you must make an advanced directive incorporating your current wishes no matter how brief. The directive can be modified as often as you wish and you may add more specific instructions in the future to make it more effective.
Myth 5 - A completed directive is work done and does not require any further intervention
Preparing an advanced directive is a sensible decision but by no means is your work over. You must communicate and handover a copy to your doctor, and will have to continue such communication if you happen to get transferred to another medical facility or make any changes in the directive so that the new doctor is aware of your instructions.
Myth 6 - A lawyer is needed to make a directive
A lawyer is not necessarily needed to make an advanced directive but can be useful to make one based on their experience. Similarly you can seek assistance from other personnel trained for such purposes by approaching your healthcare provider or through the internet.
You will now have a clearer picture of what advanced healthcare directives are and what they can do for you, thus helping you to create an advanced directive that is useful and effective to your particular case.