One must plan for the unknown and inevitable in life. If you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself, you need to make sure that what you want is known and can be followed by those who are treating you. The only way that can happen is if you have your decisions in writing. Here in Florida, there is a law that pertains to allowing you to make these decisions.
What are Advance Directives and Health CareA competent adult can make future health care/medical decisions through advance directives. Advance directives are made now, so if and when you are unable to make medical/health care decisions because of incapacity, you have them in writing. Many times advance directives are made a part of one’s estate planning.
Here in Florida, several types of documents are considered to be advance directives:
- A living will, which takes effect while you are still living, states what you want if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, or if you are in a persistent vegetative state. Your living will takes effect if you are unable to communicate you own health care needs/wishes. You can state within your living will things, such as what type of medical procedures you would allow, whether you want water and feeding tubes or to just be kept comfortable, whether you would want to be dependent upon a respirator (and for how long) or to have surgery.
Declaration of a Health Care Surrogate
- When you make a decision about who you want to be your health care surrogate, think of that person as being your “mouth piece”, because you will be unable to express your wishes or make necessary medical decisions for yourself if this document actually must be used. You can state in this document what kinds of procedures you would want or do not want the same as in the living will. You may designate an alternate health care surrogate.
- This is a document that states you wish to donate your body to persons in need or for the training of medical and health care workers. You may indicate that you are an organ donor on your Florida driver license or state identification card, on a uniform donor form or by expressing your decision in a living will.
- You do not want to express such a decision in your will, because logistically speaking, if the will is not found right away, something could happen and your wishes could not be carried out. So, you need to have the decision to donate your body to science or to be an organ donor stated in an obvious place that would be discovered shortly after your death.