In March, April and May, when New York was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, many residents started thinking about how well they had planned for a healthcare emergency. One reason many considered creating an advanced healthcare directive (or living will) is that they wanted to control the medical care they would receive if they contracted a sudden, potentially debilitating illness like COVID-19.
The advantages of an advance health care directive
Having an advance health care directive is planning for the future. It allows you to specify if you don’t want extreme life-saving methods, such as resuscitation or tube feeding, used in your care under certain conditions. It allows you to decline receiving life support if doctors consider you brain dead and your chance of recovery is extremely slim. You also can express your desire to be an organ donor.
Some the advantages of having an advance health care directive are that you can:
- Give your family members peace of mind about what your end-of-life wishes are
- Reduce any family disagreements about your care
- Minimize stress for your loved ones
An advance health care directive vs. appointing a health care proxy
In addition to having an advance health care directive, another part of full estate planning is naming a health care proxy. This is someone who will make health care decisions for you. So, if you receive debilitating injuries in a car accident and can no longer make decisions for your care, your health care proxy can. If you end up with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis later in life, if you have a health care proxy, that person will be responsible for your care decisions.
Those who appoint a health care proxy either give that person direction on their wishes for future care or choose someone they think would make decisions as they would.
Amid the current health crisis, it’s become more evident how these advance directives are more important than ever. More and more New Yorkers have realized that planning for their future is important at any age.