Advanced Directive (Durable Power of Attorney)


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Whether you're 18 or 80, documenting your wishes today means your family won't have to make heart-wrenching decisions later. An advance directive tells your doctor what kind of care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decisions (if you are in a coma, for example).

A good advance directive describes the kind of treatment you would want depending on how sick you are. For example, the directives would describe what kind of care you want if you have an illness that you are unlikely to recover from, or if you are permanently unable to speak for yourself. Advance directives usually tell your doctor that you don't want certain kinds of treatment. However, they can also say that you want a certain treatment no matter how ill you are.

A durable power of attorney (DPA) for health care is a kind of advance directive that states who you have chosen to make health care decisions for you. It becomes active any time you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Another type of advance directive is a living will. A living will is a legal document that describes the kind of medical treatments or life-sustaining treatments you would want if you were seriously or terminally ill. A living will doesn't let you select someone to make decisions for you.

Living wills and DPAs can guide your loved ones and doctor if you are unable to make decisions about your medical care. The DPA is recognized by the Michigan legislature, whereas the living will is not recognized under Michigan law.

Legal advice is not required to complete an advance directive, but if you wish, your attorney can also help you prepare a document. You should talk to the person you have chosen to make sure that individual understands your wishes and is willing to act as your advocate. We also urge you to discuss your wishes with your family, friends, and health care team. By law, your family, physicians and employees of the Community Health Center of Branch County (CHC) are not allowed to be witnesses for a document, however CHC staff can assist you with completing an advance directive should you request.

If you have a DPA completed, we encourage filing with CHC or your local hospital. For more information about Advance Directives, please call CHC Case Management at 279-5338, or pick up a form at the Information Desk at the Main Entrance.