Most of us don’t like to think about ‘what if?’ when it comes to our health, but it’s important in many circumstances to legally document your health decisions.
This can be done with an Enduring Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Directive, or what many refer to as a ‘Living Will’. So what is an Advance Health Directive and do you need one?
What is an Advance Health Directive?
In Queensland, an Advance Health Directive (AHD) (or living Will) is a formal way to give instructions about your future health care. It comes into effect only if your cognitive health deteriorates and you become unable to make your own decisions.
Advance Health Directives and Enduring Power of Attorney
While an Enduring Power of Attorney can be used to appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf, an Advance Health Directive may also be beneficial in some circumstances where specific care instructions are required.
The two documents should be prepared in conjunction with each other.
An advanced health directive can include specific details and information that health professionals should know including health conditions, allergies, and religious, spiritual or cultural beliefs that could affect your care.
You can give specific instructions about certain medical treatments, such as whether you want to receive life-sustaining measures such as tube feeding or resuscitation.
For example, you might ask that life-sustaining measures be withheld or withdrawn if you have:
- a terminal illness
- severe and irreversible brain damage
- a severe illness or injury that you may not recover from.
Who needs an Advance Health Directive?
An Advance Health Directive is particularly important if:
- you’re about to be admitted to hospital
- your medical condition is likely to affect your ability to make decisions
- you have a chronic medical condition that could cause serious complications, such as diabetes, asthma and heart or kidney disease.
- you have a terminal illness with no known cure or chance of recovery.
Anyone can make an advance health directive if you’re over 18 and have the capacity to do so.
Every situation is unique and we have the expertise to help navigate any complexities that exist or could arise when it comes to planning your health care decisions, Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Directives.