Writing an advance directive is often considered step one for people who want to have a voice in the medical decisions made at the end of their lives, even if they are no longer able to communicate.

I am a palliative care physician who preaches about the importance of completing an advance directive. I beg family, friends and patients to create this document to maintain control of their decisions, most importantly when approaching death.

So why haven’t I filled out mine?

The advance directive form has five sections. Most are relatively easy to complete.

Part one allows you to identify the person or persons you would want to carry out your wishes when you are no longer able to. Although tricky family politics can come into play here, most people can identify the person whom they feel will most reliably carry out their wishes.

I’ll get to part two in a minute.

Part three allows you to choose whether you want to donate organs after death. Again, not something we all love to think about, but pretty black and white.

Part four asks you to select a primary physician. It’s even optional. Done.

Part five asks that you sign and date the form in front of two witnesses or a notary. Check.

Now, back to part two. This section is called “Instructions for Health Care.” It looks so innocent. Only half a page, compared with almost two pages each for parts one and five. There’s also a checkbox phenomenon, which lulls one into believing that this section will be quick and easy. Choose checkbox A if you do not want to prolong your life or checkbox B if you do. Would that it were so simple. (…) Read Full Article Here

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