When should I get a Health Care Directive?

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When is the right time for an Advanced Health Care Directive?

A lot of people think that setting up a Health Care Directive can wait until they are older.  So, what is the best age?  I recently had a conversation with someone much younger than me.  I’m in my 50’s so I wanted to know what her thoughts were about having a Health Care Directive.

Meet Rachel — 20 Year’s Young:

“A few months ago, a fellow Cal Poly student fell while hiking Bishop’s Peak.  She was rushed to the hospital and her parents were called immediately because she was unconscious. Since she was over 18, her parents did not have the authority to decide the fate of their daughter.  Fortunately, she was discharged from the hospital a few days later, but the whole experience was extremely stressful and frustrating for her family.  After realizing this could have been me, it became clear to me that I needed a health care directive.

“After doing some research on the internet, I discovered that a Health Care Directive would allow me to name someone to carry out my choices about what I want if I am incapacitated and unable to make important decisions for myself.  This is very important to me because I know what I want to happen when it comes to life prolonging procedures and organ donation.  I do not want someone else to make those decisions for me.  I didn’t think this was something I would have to consider until later in life.  Based on this recent incident, it is clear that having a Healthcare Directive would give my parents the authority to communicate my choices to doctors without having to jump through legal hoops.

“If you are over 18, then please think about having a Health Care Directive prepared so you can be confident that your decisions are carried out immediately should a life threatening incident occur in an unpredictable moment.”

In Summary

Wow!  An eye-opening conversation with a 20 year-old.  So, even if you are not involved in activities that may be dangerous, you could suffer an injury when you least expect it.  Clearly, the consequences of not having a Health Care Directive could be very costly to you and your family.  It could cause serious delays with your care and you may not obtain the type of healthcare that you desire.

No matter how old you are:  20 or 80 —  NOW may be the right time — the best time — to get your Advanced Health Care Directive in place so that the person you appoint can communicate your wishes to a doctor.  Your life may depend on it.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Having a Health Care Directive today may avoid unforeseen problems tomorrow.

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This content is general knowledge and can be found on any bookshelf in a public library or bookstore in California.
Carol Ramirez
Carol Ramirez
Carol Ramirez, CLA, LDA, is a registered and bonded Legal Document Assistant providing affordable legal document preparation to consumers with the highest degree of confidentiality and professionalism.

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