April 28, 2015

Making End-of-Life Wishes Known

Planning ahead for accidents or serious illnesses is important for all adults—young and old—in case they are ever unable to speak for themselves. An advance directive is the best way to guide future health care decisions.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a legal state document that puts an individual’s end-of-life wishes in writing. There are two parts to this form:

    • A Living Will allows people to state whether or not they want to receive life-prolonging measures (such as breathing machines or feeding tubes) if they have an incurable condition, are unlikely to regain consciousness or have lost significant mental function.
    • A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows people to choose an adult they trust to make health care decisions for them if they cannot.

Why is an Advance Directive needed?

When an accident occurs or a person’s health declines drastically, doctors can now save lives like they have never been able to before. Yet sometimes, life-saving measures cannot completely restore basic functions like independent breathing, eating, speaking or thinking.

“An advance directive is a way to say, ‘If I cannot breathe, walk or eat on my own, if I cannot be conscious, please let me die naturally and peacefully,’” says Marcia Vanard, director of Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro’s (HPCG) Counseling and Education Center.

Advance directives empower people by giving them control over their health care if they cannot communicate. And many people just don’t want their loved ones to have to make difficult decisions on their own.

Complete an Advance Directive today.

Download a North Carolina advance directive with instructions by clicking here:

HPCG Advance Directive

After carefully reviewing and filling out the form, wait to sign and date it until two witnesses and a notary are present.

The advance directive is not for just filling out—it is an opportunity to communicate—so people are also encouraged to talk about their end-of-life wishes with loved ones.

If you want to complete an advance directive, HPCG counselors can help. They can answer questions, help talk through concerns or find ways for you to start a conversation with loved ones about advance directives. Contact the Counseling and Education Center at 336.621.5565 or [email protected] for assistance.