A Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care (Advance Directive) is a document that everyone—regardless of age—should have, but it is especially important for older adults. Georgia’s laws on advance directives changed significantly over 10 years ago and, while living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care created before then are still valid until revoked, it’s advisable to update these documents with an Advance Directive. If you already have an Advance Directive, you should review it periodically to make sure it still reflects your wishes. If not, a new Advance Directive is needed.
An Advance Directive allows you to pre-plan the decisions you want made regarding your medical care in the event you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. An Advance Directive can save your family stress and heartache during a crisis. Most important, it can ensure that your wishes, rather than those of anyone else, are carried out.
An Advance Directive is important to have because it enables you to appoint a person you trust as your health care agent. The agent’s role is to make medical and health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated or if you choose to have the agent speak for you. Your agent can take charge of many medical-related issues on your behalf. For example, your agent can:
A Georgia Advance Directive also contains a “Living Will,” which directs whether you want life-sustaining procedures to be withheld or withdrawn in the event you are suffering from a terminal illness or lapse into a state of permanent unconsciousness. It allows you to indicate your preferences regarding lifesaving medical interventions and make choices concerning end-of-life treatment options. For example, you can indicate that, if you have an incurable or irreversible condition that will soon result in your death, you can choose to extend your life for as long as possible using all medications and procedures available. Alternatively, you can choose to allow your death to occur naturally without any extraordinary measures being taken.
Physicians, hospitals and other medical providers are required to follow the instructions in your Advance Directive.
An Advance Directive requires you to think about your mortality and make difficult decisions. For most people, it is not an easy task. I can make the process less daunting by giving you guidance regarding the choices you make and selecting a trustworthy person to be your health care agent who is fully aware of your treatment wishes.