First you should know that all states and the District of Columbia have laws about advance directives. Be sure to follow the specific requirements for writing advance directives for your state. Before you create an advance directive, you will want to talk with your health care provider, your loved ones, and at least one person that you may want to choose as your proxy or agent (substitute decision-maker).
Types of Advance Directives
Living Will - The living will is a legal document used to state certain future health care decisions only when a person becomes unable to make the decisions and choices on their own. The living will is only used at the end of life.
DPOA - Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (aka Medical Power of Attorney) - A durable power of attorney for health care, also known as a medical power of attorney, is a legal document in which you name a person to be a proxy (agent) to make all your health care decisions if you become unable to do so. Before a medical power of attorney can be used to guide medical decisions, a person's physician must certify that the person is unable to make their own medical decisions.
DNR – Do Not Resuscitate - Resuscitation means medical staff will try to re-start your heart and breathing using methods such as CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator). A Do Not Resuscitate or DNR order means that if you stop breathing or your heart stops, nothing will be done to try to keep you alive. If you are in the hospital, you can ask your doctor to add a DNR order to your medical record. You would only ask for this if you don’t want the hospital staff to try to revive you if your heart or breathing stopped. Some hospitals require a new DNR order each time you are admitted, so you might need to ask every time you go into the hospital. But remember that this DNR order is only good while you are in the hospital. Outside the hospital, it’s a little different.
Ask your health care provider how you can get a wallet card, bracelet, or other DNR documents to keep when you are at home or not in the hospitals. Some states have standard DNR forms that are meant to be used outside the hospital. The non-hospital DNR is intended for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) teams.
Organ and Tissue Donation - Organ and tissue donation can be included in your advance directive. Many states also provide organ donor cards or add notations to your driver's license.
REMEMBER: You have a right to decide! By law hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, hospices, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are required to provide their patients with written information . . . concerning health care advance directives. The state rules that require this include 58A-2.0232, 59A-3.254, 59A-4.106, 59A-8.0245, and 59A-12.013, Florida Administrative Code.
WHEN SHOULD YOU MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR EXISTING ADVANCE DIRECTIVE?
According to Harvard Health.org, if you decide to change something in your living will or healthcare power of attorney, the best thing to do is create a new one.
WHAT ARE THE 5 D’S?
The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging suggests that you re-examine your health care wishes whenever any of the following "five d's" occurs:
Decade: When you start each new decade of your life.
Death: When you experience the death of a loved one.
Divorce: When you experience a divorce or other major family change. (In many states, a divorce automatically revokes the authority of a spouse who had been named as agent.)
Diagnosis: When you are diagnosed with a serious medical problem.
Decline: When you experience a significant decline or deterioration from an existing health condition, especially when it diminishes your ability to live independently
I’m going to add a 6th D –
6 - Departure – when you depart from your current location (that is – relocate), you should update your advance directives to reflect your current address.
What are the Florida Requirements for Advance Directives?
Know that there is no legal requirement to complete an advance directive. However, if you have not made an advance directive, decisions about your health care or an anatomical donation may be made for you by a court-appointed guardian, your wife or husband, your adult child, your parent, your adult sibling, an adult relative, or a close friend.
You can obtain advance directive forms from the state bar association.
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