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  • Writer's pictureErach Screwvala

How an Advanced Medical Directive Can Improve End-of-Life Care

Today I want to discuss how you can maintain control over critical end-of-life decisions. You may have heard of Terri Schiavo, a woman who went into a brain coma after cardiac arrest in 1990. For the next 15 years, she was kept alive on a feeding tube as her husband and family wrangled a horrific legal dispute, which turned into a larger political controversy over whether or not to withdraw the feeding tube. Because Terri had never documented what she would want in this scenario, her husband and parents were embroiled in a lengthy dispute, and were ultimately used by political interests over a long period of time. If this is something you want to avoid, then it's critical that you express what your wishes would be.

In these end-of-life decisions, it's not enough to just tell somebody. I can tell my spouse over a glass of wine, "If I'm in a persistent vegetative state, I don't want to be kept alive. I only want to live if I can have a good quality of life." Ultimately, that conversation will not ensure that my wishes are followed. For this reason, it's important to carefully document what you want for end-of-life care through an Advanced Medical Directive. This document is a set of instructions that you leave with your health care proxy (who is also an important part of your plan), that lets them know what you would want in certain situations when you are not able to advocate for yourself. This directive is flexible in terms of what you want or don't want to have happen. If end-of-life care is something you need help with, or if you want to talk over some decisions that you've made, please reach out and let us know. We'd be happy to help you.

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