What You Need To Know For An Advanced Care Directive

Do you know what an advanced care directive is?  A lot of people do not realize what one is and how easy it is to have one prepared.


An Advanced Care Directive is also known as a "Living Will" and is a legally binding document made while a person has the mental capacity to do so.  In Saskatchewan, to have capacity means that a person is able to understand information about a health carae decision, able to understand the consequences of making a decision based on that information, and is able to communicate that decision.  An advanced care directive only comes into play if someone is lacking the capacity.  Someone might complete one of these if they know they have a terminal illness or want to make future arrangements to ensure everything is taken care of.

Creating an advanced care directive, lets your loved ones, health care professionals, and appointed proxy(ies) about your wishes when you do not have the capacity to be making the decisions.  This directive will also make you think about things that you have probably never considered before and gives you an opportunity to discuss your health care wishes with health care professionals, priest, minister, family members or others.

When treated in a hospital, the doctors and other staff do whatever they can to save a life regardless if it is being hooked up to a machine or tubes.  Even though these treatments and and interventions offer a  cure or comfort, it may not be what you want.    In some of these situations, pursuing life long interventions may only increase the burden of the patient or prolong the process of dying.    With an advanced care directive, it gives you the opportunity to consider your wishes.

Natural death is accepted as a part of life.  There may be difficult decisions to make at the end of life or when life hangs in a delicate balance.  An advanced care directive may not cover every decision for a person without capacity.  That is where a proxy comes in.  A proxy is a person you appoint while you still have capacity.  Your proxy makes medical care decisions when you lack the capacity.  This person will act for your wishes.   They must be a capable adult over the aage of 18 and know what you want according to your Advanced Care Directive.  You can have more than one proxy (health care professionals will go down the list to the next appointed proxy if the previous one is unavailable) or you can appoint proxies together.  A power of attorney is not a medical proxy.  If you are wanting to appoint a power of attorney, you will have to appoint that separately.

Once you have completed your health care directive, give a copy to your proxy or proxies, health care professionals, family, hospital or care home to ensure that they know you have an advanced care directive filled out and who to contact if necessary.  If you are still living at home, you might want to place the advanced care directive on or on top of your fridge so in case emergency services come to your house, they know who to contact.



Information pulled from http://www.chassk.ca/resources/files/CHAS%20Advance%20Health%20Care%20Directive_final.pdf

This link also has the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan Advanced Care Directive paperwork to fill out.