The VA makes this advance directive available: VA Advance Directive Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will (VA Form 10-0137).
This advance directive form is an official document where you can write down your preferences for your health care. If someday you can’t make health care decisions for yourself anymore, this advance directive can help guide the people who will make decisions for you. You can use this form to:
Name specific people to make health care decisions for you; Describe your preferences for how you want to be treated; Describe your preferences for medical care, mental health care, long-term care, or other types of health care. When you complete this form, it’s important that you also talk to your doctor, family, and other loved ones who may help to decide about your care. You should explain what you meant when you filled out the form. A health care professional can help you with this form and can answer any questions that you have. If you need more space for any part of the form, you may attach extra pages. Be sure to initial and date every page.
There is a wide variety of religious denominational advance directives which can be attached to the VA Form. Roman Catholic hospitals abide by strict guidelines which they will adhere to regardless of the patients’ preferences. Jewish laws require quick burials; no post-mortem procedures such as dissections, organ donations, or autopsies are allowed without a rabbi’s permission. In general, Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood products and have their own special advance directives. All fifty states have statutes concerning living wills. And so it goes: secular and non-secular concerns inform one’s views on this topic.
My DH and I have not written ours yet. Why not? After all, we do have preferences and we know we aren’t invincible. We have a horror of having state officials or courts deciding our fates, especially if we are at death’s door in Vermont, Washington, Oregon, or Montana. I admit to being a bit superstitious about the whole thing. And Advance Directives guide your decision makers but can’t force them to do as you wish.
If we can’t communicate and the healthcare bills get too high, will Advance Directives really come into play? Say you put ink to paper and state that you prefer a feeding tube and hydration if you become comatose in hopes that you will awaken in the future. Will society allow you be able to stay in this unproductive condition indefinitely? Will we really have any control if we can’t communicate in a way that can be understood?