Advance Directive Discussion for Aging Adults

No one really enjoys talking about Advance Directives, but this discussion is essential. While people of all ages should likely have an Advance Directive, it’s especially important for aging adults.

An Advance Directive is used to help older people decide in advance how they would like their last days to look. It’s a fantastically important topic to address with your family and your primary care physician.

While it’s an uncomfortable but necessary topic to address—people usually don’t rush to their families to talk about it—an Advance Directive gives you a voice and lets others know of your wishes when you’re incapacitated.

This document tells healthcare professionals and your family if you want steps taken to resuscitate you if your heartbeat or breathing stops, or no steps taken at all. The process includes letting family and doctors know if you want to be put on a breathing machine, steps taken to restart your heart, or a feeding tube for eating if you are unable to eat enough on your own. Letting others know of these wishes are the basic elements in an Advance Directive.

Check with your doctor and/or attorney on the best way to implement an Advance Directive.

The first step is discussing the Advance Directive with your family and doctor. Without having an Advance Directive in place, your family is left with difficult decisions, which are usually made at an extremely emotional time. Having an Advance Directive in places helps take some of this burden off your family. If you choose not to be resuscitated, it also spares your family the very painful decision of removing life support at a later time.

Patricia Litvak_2014_SmPatricia Litvak, MD, an expert in medical issues facing aging adults, is a medical director at InnovAge



This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.

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