Advance Directives

Shall I make an advance directive?

Generally speaking, in determining whether or not to make an advance directive, the key question is whether or not you wish to receive life-sustaining treatments, such a artificial ventilation or artificial nutrition, in any circumstances, even if the prolonged life will be a burdensome one, or, you wish to receive life-sustaining treatments only if there is a chance you will recover, and simply be given pain-relieving treatment if there is no chance of recovery.

Before you make a decision, you should consult your doctors for the details of different kinds of life-sustaining treatments currently available. You may also consider your own values such as your religious beliefs. More importantly, you should share any plan to make advance directives with your family. Injury, sickness or death is of course no easy topic. Advance planning not only helps to ensure that you would receive treatment, or not receive treatment according to your wishes, but it can also relieve your family members of the’ burden of having to make tough decisions on your behalf without knowing what you would want.

Talk to your family members. Let them know what you think about life-sustaining treatments, and particularly what you wish or do not wish to receive. Meanwhile, doctors should communicate with patients’ families and help them understand and respect the patients’ wishes.

It is more usual for those already suffering from serious illnesses to make advance directives, but since serious injuries or illnesses may occur suddenly out of the blue (without warning), perfectly healthy people may also make advance directives just in case something unexpected happens. In other words, it does not require you to have a serious injury or illness before you can make an advance directive.