Advance Directives, Part 2: Avoiding A Nightmare Scenario

Making your directions known regarding health care choices in the event that you become unable to make those decisions for yourself requires the effective use of the appropriate legal instruments.

As we explained in the first part of this post, in Michigan those instruments are called advance care directives.

We focused the first part of the post on describing the basic types of available directives. In this part, we will consider some of the scenarios in which they might be used.

The scenario that many people have in the back of their minds is some variation on a nightmare. In this technological nightmare, someone is hooked up to machines that keep the body nominally alive. But there may be little animating spirit or mindful purpose left in the body.

In such a scenario, without the types of consciousness most people associate with meaning, an advance directive is very relevant. A directive against life-extending measures can help to resolve potential dilemmas about continuing to keep someone alive though invasive and very expensive machines.

Younger people tend to think that nightmare scenarios of this sort don’t apply to them. After all, youth tends to involve a perception of invincibility.

All it takes, however, is one serious car accident or some other serious injury or illness for the veneer of this invincibility to be stripped away. And such contingencies can occur at any age.

That is one good reason why it makes sense to consider getting basic advance directives in place, regardless of your age.

Source: Michigan Office of Services to the Aging, "Advance Directives," Accessed April 12, 2014

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