Everyone has the right to make personal decisions about health care. Doctors ask whether you will accept a treatment by discussing the risks and benefits and working with you to decide. But what if you can no longer make you own decisions? Anyone can wind up hurt or sick and unable to make decisions about medical treatments.
An advance directive speaks for you if you are unable to and helps make sure your religious and personal beliefs will be respected. It is a useful legal document for an adult of any age to plan for future health care needs. While no one is required to have an advance directive, it is smart to think ahead and plan now. If you don't have an advance directive and later you can't speak for yourself, then usually your next of kin will make health care decisions for you. But even if you want your next of kin to make decisions for you, an advance directive can make things easier for your loved ones by helping to prevent misunderstandings or arguments about your care.
More Americans Discussing - and Planning - End-of-Life Treatment
42% of Americans have had a friend or relative suffer from a terminal illness or coma in the last five years and for a majority of these people and 23% of the general public, the issue of withholding life sustaining treatment came up.
An overwhelming majority of the public supports laws that give patients the right to decide whether they want to be kept alive through medical treatment.
By more than eight-to-one (84%-10%), the public approves of laws that let terminally ill patients make decision about whether to be kept alive through medical treatment.
One of the most striking changes between 1990 and 2005 is the growth in the number of people who say they have a living will - up 17 points, from 12% in 1990 to 29% now.