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Advance Directive

Preparing for an Emergency in Edgar County & Beyond

In the face of a medical emergency, clear communication is essential. An advance directive empowers you to do just that, ensuring your medical wishes are known and respected if you're ever unable to make decisions for yourself.

What Is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a written statement from a person stating how they want their medical decisions made in case they are ever unable to physically or mentally decide on their own. It serves two key purposes:

  • Clarity for Medical Teams: By outlining your wishes in advance, you provide valuable guidance to doctors and nurses, allowing them to provide care that aligns with your values and goals.
  • Reduced Family Burden: During a stressful medical emergency, your loved ones shouldn't have to grapple with difficult treatment decisions. An advance directive lessens this burden by giving them a roadmap for your wishes.

There are several components that can make up an advance directive, each addressing different aspects of your care, including:

  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: This document appoints a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you're incapacitated.
  • Living Will: A living will specifies your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatments, such as artificial respiration or tube feeding, in the event of a terminal illness or permanent unconscious state.
  • Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order: A DNR is a specific directive requesting that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) not be attempted if your heart stops or you stop breathing.

Understanding the Differences

It's important to understand the distinctions between these components:

  • Scope: An advance directive is an umbrella term encompassing various documents, while a DNR is a specific instruction regarding CPR.
  • Level of Detail: A living will delves deeper into your preferences for life-sustaining treatments, whereas a DNR focuses solely on resuscitation efforts.
  • Decision-Making: A healthcare power of attorney appoints someone to make decisions on your behalf, whereas a living will and DNR pre-determine your wishes for specific situations.

Taking Control of Your Care

Having an advance directive conversation with your doctor and loved ones is a proactive step towards ensuring your healthcare wishes are respected. Horizon Health encourages you to explore these resources and discuss them with your care providers.

Download Advance Directives forms from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

For assistance with advance directive planning, call our patient care navigator team at 217-466-4550.