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Advance Directives - Talking Points

Advance Directives allow a person who is unable to speak for him/herself to assert their right to make informed decisions by authorizing a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf.

Can you think of various situations in which having an advance directive is needed?  

  • Your child turns 18 and becomes unconscious or stops breathing (due to a choking incident, a car accident, a swimming accident, a sports injury, intoxication, etc…).  Will the hospital/ER share confidential information with you about your adult child?  Who will make critical decisions about urgent care?


  • A young adult goes away to college (near or far) and has a medical emergency that requires urgent medical care.  Who makes decisions if he/she can not?


  • A chronic illness or condition causes a decline in cognition (dementia, Parkinson’s Psychosis, a severe infection, Schizophrenia, Psychotic episode, etc..).  Who decides on treatment options and care plan decisions?  


  • A cancer patient is terminally ill and becomes unable to make decisions about his/her care.  Who has the authority to make decisions on his/her behalf?


In each of the above situations, who knows the patient’s preferred wishes and is authorized to have the medical team carry them out?

It is important that you take the time to discuss these issues with your doctor and/or family, if appropriate, to make sure your wishes are known and you understand your responsibility and authority to carry out an advanced directive.