It can be uncomfortable to think about serious illness or injury, but we owe it to ourselves and our loved one to plan ahead.
An Advance Directive is a legal document that provides written instructions to your doctor, family or health care representative about the type of medical care you want—and do not want—if you cannot make decisions for yourself. You should think about having an advance directive no matter what age or health condition.
You can write advance directives on your own or with a lawyer. But you may want to speak with a lawyer before completing and signing an advance directive. You can change or even cancel an advance directive at any time.
An advance directive becomes effective only when your doctor has evaluated you and has determined that you are unable to understand your diagnosis or treatment options. Your doctors, family, or your health care representative should have copies of your advance directive(s) so your medical wishes are honored.
There are two types of advance directives. You can choose to have both or just one:
- A proxy directive is also known as a durable power of attorney for health care. With this, you name a person to make health care decisions for you if are unable to make them yourself. A proxy directive does not allow anyone to make legal or financial decisions for you.
- An instruction directive is also known as a living will. In this, you explain the situations in which you would want, or not want, life-sustaining treatment, and the types of such treatment you would want or not want. You can also explain your beliefs, values and the general care and treatment you prefer.
- Visit the New Jersey Department of Health for more information on advance directives in the State of New Jersey.