Some elderly adults eventually reach the point they can no longer make medical decisions on their own behalf due to an illness or injury. One of the best ways for a senior to ensure that their healthcare wishes are being honored if they become incapacitated is by setting up an advance medical directive.

An advance medical directive is a legal document that tells friends, family members and healthcare professionals which life-sustaining medical treatments a loved one does not want to receive. And, if your family member has one, you should know how it works.

Types of Advance Medical Directives

These are the two main types of advance medical directives, and a person may have both:

Living Will

This lets others, including healthcare providers, know the specific types of life-sustaining medical care that a person does not want to receive if they can no longer speak on their own behalf. Each state has their own living will laws, and once it’s been signed a living will becomes a legally binding document. That living will then takes effect when a designated individual can no longer make healthcare decisions on their own behalf.

These are some of the specific medical treatments that an individual might otherwise receive during a life-threatening situation that a living will prohibits them from receiving:

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