Right now, you can probably make your own health care choices within the limits of your financial and insurance capabilities, which are an important freedom to have and cannot be underestimated. You can probably choose your doctor, choose what medical treatment you want to receive, choose what types of medications you’re willing to take and choose what types of diet and lifestyle changes you’re willing to make in order to protect your health.
What happens if you’re in a tragic auto accident, or become extremely ill with an irreversible disease? Who is going to make your health care decisions then? Do you want to be on life-sustaining support for months or years on end, do you want to have a feeding tube or a ventilator keeping you alive while your family watches nearby? These are important questions and something that everyone should think about, regardless of their age. Anyone can get hurt in an accident and anyone can fall into a deep coma.
An advance directive allows you to make your medical wishes known. You can use these instruments when you can no longer speak for yourself and make your own decisions about medical treatments. People generally use living wills, durable power of attorney for health care, and the Arizona Department of Health (IDPH) Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Advanced Directive, all of which serve a slightly different purpose.
The living will allows you to specify in advance what types of health care treatment you do not wish to receive if you suffer from an incurable or irreversible disease, injury, or illness. This document only applies once a physician determines that you are suffering from an incurable or irreversible condition and is only used should you be unable to make decisions for yourself.
The durable power of attorney for health care allows you to choose someone in advance to make health care treatment decisions for you when you are incapable of doing so for yourself. In order for someone to be your agent they must be over 18 and they cannot be your physician.
With the Arizona Department of Public Health Uniform Do-Not-Resuscitate Advanced Directive, you, in coordination with your physician make an advanced decision in regards to whether or not you want to receive CPR. Without a DNR, health care professionals will automatically begin CPR whenever your heart or breathing stops.