The Realities of Advanced Directives:
With increases in human lifespan due to major advances in modern medicine, there is a growing need for legal documentation to express their wishes due to their incapacity (advanced directives) (Casey, 2001, 429). As humans age the quality of life diminishes, and our elderly population are simply kept alive by ventilators. These machines are only prolonging the inevitable, “pain, suffering, and death”(Casey, 2001, 429). With innovation and improvements in modern medicine the topic of advanced directives is being discussed more frequently (Casey, 2001, 429).
Types of Advanced Directives:
There are essentially two forms of advanced directives 1) is the living will and 2) durable powers of attorney’s (Casey, 2001, 429). Both forms of advanced directives allow the patient to express wishes pertaining to the level of medical intervention the patient desires in a state of incapacity (Casey, 2001, 429).
Living will, also known as the advanced directive, basically contains the patient’s wishes or instructions for their end-of-life treatment (Casey, 2001, 429). The living will initially came into fruition to decipher control of property affairs, rights to estate, and possessions (Dena, 2014). Currently a living will includes health care desires and course of treatment that caregivers should provide at end-of life care (Dena, 2014). Some living wills may be so specific that they may indicate the types of medical treatments, types of medical devices, methods of life sustaining treatments, and even the types of feeding for end-of life or terminal scenarios (Dena, 2014). Living wills may include withholding specific treatments, analgesia, pain management medication, tube feedings, mechanical ventilation devices, withholding CPR, and even hydration (Dena, 2014).
Durable Powers of Attorney:
Whereas, durable powers of attorney, designates a representative, such as a family member, to make the decision for the incapacitated patient or family member (Casey, 2001, 429). This written form of authorization is used as an instrument to designate the agent to make important decisions on behalf of the grantor, usually in the presence of a licensed attorney at law (Boni-Saenz, 2013, 1231). This legal contract may include information such as “who would take custody”, “payments”, “insurance claims” and other financial matters (Boni-Saenz, 2013, 1231). In situations were mental wellness is compromised, such as Alzeimer’s Disease (AD), the surrogate (person who is grated power) acts on behalf of the grantor (person with AD)(Boni-Saenz, 2013, 1231).
In reality there are very few middle-aged patients and elderly patients that actually prepare advanced directives (Casey, 2001, 429). In 2006 there was an initiative by Congress to encourage patients to prepare advanced directives (Casey, 2001, 429). In a poll by the US Public Health Agency is was surveyed that 74% of people believe it is important to have an advanced...