Pine Crest Pointers: Advance directive basics
By Sara Sedo
Social Services Supervisor, Pine Crest Nursing Home
Being a healthcare provider is not just about providing services; it’s about partnering with our patients and residents in your healthcare decisions.
We want to provide you with the best care to achieve your health objectives. It is important for you, as a patient, to be fully informed about your health, and to have the opportunity to express your personal healthcare goals. When the members of your healthcare team know what is important to you, they can best apply their expertise to help you reach those goals.
Advance care planning enables you to work with your healthcare team so they understand your perspectives and can integrate them into future treatment recommendations. Your healthcare team wants you to think about your values and preferences to guide the healthcare you receive.
An advance directive is a document that helps you express your health care wishes if you cannot speak for yourself. In Wisconsin, the two documents that are used most often are the Declaration to Healthcare Professionals (living will) form and the power of attorney for health care form.
The living will form makes it possible for adults in Wisconsin to state their preferences for life-sustaining procedures and feeding tubes in the event the person is in a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state.
The power of attorney for health care form makes it possible for adults in Wisconsin to authorize other individuals (called health care agents) to make health care decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated. It may also be used to make or refuse to make an anatomical gift.
A person is able to have one or both documents completed.
The power of attorney for health care enables you to appoint a health care agent to speak for you and make all types of health care decisions including admission to a nursing home or community based residential facility (CBRF). You can also allow your health care agent to make decisions to withdraw or withhold a feeding tube and make other decisions regarding life sustaining measures. You can also add special desires and provisions in your document.
A living will is limited in that it can just direct your health care providers on what to do about life-sustaining measures if your condition is terminal or if you are in a persistent vegetative state. The Living Will does not appoint someone to make health care decisions for you or admit you to a health care facility. These documents only become effective if you have been deemed incapacitated by two health care professionals as defined in the state statutes on advance directives.
It is important for anyone 18 or older to complete an advance directive. If a person does not have an advance directive and becomes incapacitated and decisions need to be made, a guardianship may have to be pursued. This can be costly and time consuming. The person may have no say in who is going to make their decisions.
Please consider filling out an advance directive. You can obtain these documents and help in filling out the documents at your local nursing home, medical clinic or Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC).