An advance directive is a written statement of a person's wishes regarding medical treatment, often including a living will, made to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor. Once you’ve completed your advance directive documents, keep the original signed document in a secure but accessible place. Do not put the original document in a safe deposit box or any other security box that would keep others from having access to it.
Make sure you give a copy to everyone who has been a part of your advance directive discussion and documentation. Bring a copy to your health care team – this includes all of your physicians.
Mind My Health is a new, free online tool and partnership Cone Health is participating in that makes it easy to fill out and manage your advance directives online.
Your advance directive is a fluid, dynamic discussion, and completing the documents is not the end. You should always revisit and talk about them, making any necessary adjustments as your health care plan changes. Be sure to talk to your family, doctors, clergy and friends about your wishes, particularly if your medical condition changes.
Now that you’ve educated yourself and completed your advance directives, you can be a great resource for your family, friends and faith community. Start the discussion about the importance of creating advance directive documents, sharing what you did and what worked for you.
Our community is fortunate, as Cone Health offers exceptional palliative care, family medicine, social work, spiritual care and other related services dedicated to providing the education and resources needed for the process of preparing advance medical directives and how to discuss wishes at the end of life with family.
Sue Ellen Grounds, MSN, RN-BC, CHPN, is a palliative care clinical nurse specialist at Cone Health. She received a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a master’s degree in nursing from Western Governors University. Grounds has more than 30 years of nursing experience, focusing on palliative care for the last 10 years.