Advance Care Directive

7 Important Instructions to Include in an Advance Care Directive

By , Caring.com Senior Editor
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An advance health care directive -- a legal document that tells caregivers and care providers how your parents want medical matters handled -- should be as specific as possible. Help your parents think through all of the issues that might come up in connection with their future medical care.

Understand that these documents take effect only in fairly dire circumstances: Your parent must be unable to communicate his wishes for care personally. And most laws also specify that a patient must be close to death from a terminal condition or in a permanent coma before a directive will be enforced.

Depending on the state, the document specifying medical care may be called an advance directive, living will, directive to physicians, or power of attorney for health care. When drawing up these important documents (one for each parent), pay special attention to the issues mentioned here.