Advance Directives: The Importance of End-of-Life Decisions

Advance directives are instructions that your elderly loved one provides before end-of-life decisions must be made. These can be in the form of legal documents, such as a living will, or simply communicated during an open, honest conversation. Ted, a resident of Columbia, South Carolina, is one of many people in Richland County who wonders how his parents would like their medical care handled when they get older.

The benefits of having advance directives are many. First and foremost, if Ted’s parents, Mike and Cindy, tell him what they would like in terms of senior care, it takes a great deal of stress and responsibility off of his shoulders. Because of this, Ted and his family can care for Mike and Cindy without second guessing their medical decisions, as they will already know how Mike and Cindy would like to be cared for.

Although advance directives can be given through a simple conversation, it is best for legal purposes to have them in writing. This is especially important if more than one family member is involved in legal decisions or senior care. With the advance directives set forth in a living will or other legal document, there will be no disagreement pertaining to the medical choices that care takers make.

In addition to creating a living will, seniors are encouraged to help their families through these medical decisions by appointing durable power of attorney to one trusted individual. This may or may not be a family member, but it should be someone who can be counted on to carry out the seniors’ wishes with regard to medical care and end-of-life planning.

Drafting legal documents is the best way to go when creating advance directives. As such, seniors, like Mike and Cindy in Columbia, are encouraged to talk to their lawyers about living wills and durable power of attorney. Additionally, seniors should go over their advance directives with the individuals whom they appoint with durable power of attorney. Doing so will ensure that all questions are answered and, in the case of Mike and Cindy, Ted knows exactly what decisions they would like him to make with regard to life support, organ donation, and other important issues.

Tips on preparing Advance Directives:

There are three important steps to follow when preparing your advance directives. First, have the advance directives in writing. Having all expectations written down will avoid indecision and confusion. Second, create a living will, appointing power of attorney to one trusted individual. Whether a son or daughter, sibling, or close friend, having your wishes declared by one voice keeps the process exactly the way you intended it. Third, draft a legal document. This legal document can be as detailed as you want and leave no questions regarding how the advance directives are to be executed when theappropriate time comes.

How we can help prepare Advance Directives:

At Always Best Care of the Midlands (, we understand that preparing advance directive and making end of life decisions can be difficult. Nate Rhodes, the owner of Always Best Care is a Certified Senior Advisor and has been trained how to navigate the complexities of advance directives and end of life decisions.