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Why you need an advance care directive

At some point in your life there may come a time when you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. This could be because of a sudden accident or mental health episode, dementia, a stroke, or even an inability to communicate while in a coma or unconscious. Planning for these types of situations and end of life care may be scary, but thinking ahead is important.

Advanced care planning should be a routine part of your health care, even if you’re not living with existing medical or health conditions. It’s important to develop a plan, as you never know what may happen in the future. Once you have a directive in place, MedicAlert can make sure your wishes are always honoured by providing healthcare professionals with 24/7 access to the document.

What is an advanced care directive? An advanced care directive is a legally binding document that gives you the power to make clear arrangements for your future health care and end of life matters. It provides you with the ability to be in control of your wishes and know that these will be respected, even if others need to make decisions for you.

What’s in a directive? Your directive contains information about situations where you may want or not want medical treatment and explains your preferences and instructions when you’re unable to communicate them for yourself. It can also include details of appointment, if you’d prefer someone else to make decisions about your medical care for you. It’s important to note that this document will only apply to your health care decisions and will not affect any financial matters.

Why have a directive? Studies show that on average, 33% of older patients receive some form of end-of-life treatment that is of no benefit to them. These non-beneficial treatments may lead to unnecessary suffering or prolonged death for the patient and can cause extra stress, regret and false hope for the patient’s family. Putting your wishes into a directive can take a huge burden off a loved one’s shoulders while providing you peace of mind that your wishes will be honoured in a stressful situation. Your directive will not affect the care you receive while you can still

communicate, as the instructions in the document will only be used when you’re no longer able to voice your decisions.

While it is important for a family to think about an advanced care directive, equally as important is turning the mind to ensuring that emergency services are able to access advanced care directive information. In an emergency minutes matter, and getting the right information into the hands of paramedics and health professionals is vital.

One solution that an increasing number of families are turning to is MedicAlert. MedicAlert Foundation has protected the community for over 45 years with their internationally recognised and trusted medical alert jewellery. Wearing such accessory allows your family, friends, work colleagues and others to quickly recognise any conditions, allergies, implants, devices or any other medical requirements you may have. Your personalised ID jewellery will also mention if you have an advanced care directive, so that health professionals can quickly determine the correct action to be taken. Access their website to learn more or call 1800 88 22 22 for personal information.

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