Making Your Last Wishes Known
July 7, 2000 -- Laws in every state have made it clear: You have the fundamental right to make a decision in advance about whether to accept or refuse medical treatment if you become gravely ill. You can exercise this right through an advance directive, a legal document that provides clear directions to physicians and caregivers about how you wish to be treated should you become unable to communicate.
According to a 1991 Gallup poll, 75% of Americans feel advance directives are a good idea, yet only 20% actually complete them. By taking the steps to prepare an advance directive before a medical crisis arises, you can make decisions thoughtfully and ensure that your wishes concerning end-of-life treatment will be honored. And remember: These directives are not just for the elderly. Illness and accidents in particular befall younger people as well.
There are two main kinds of advance directives: