When you look at the most recent census statistics one fact really jumps out and grabs you: We are getting older as a society. Senior citizens are the single fastest growing segment of American society. To add to this amazing trend the oldest among us, people who are at least 85 years of age and older, are the subset that is most rapidly expanding. While it is true that there are people who reach advanced ages who are fully capable mentally and physically, there are those who aren’t. This is what make incapacity planning so very important during these times.
The two advance health care directives that you may want to include in your incapacity plan would be a living will and a durable medical power of attorney or health care proxy. A living will is a document that you use to state your preferences with regard to medical procedures. If you do in fact want to be kept alive through artificial means should you fall into a terminal condition, you can make your wishes known in a living will. Conversely, if you would rather let nature take its course, this choice can alternately be elucidated in your living will. You can also document your pain control and comfort care preferences if you want to.
In addition to a living will many people will include a health care proxy or durable medical power of attorney. With these instruments you can name an attorney-in-fact to make medical decisions in your behalf should you be unable to do so for yourself at some point in time. The reason why both of these documents are often used is because it can be difficult to address every possibility in a living will. Your health care proxy will be empowered to make decisions concerning matters that may not have been expressly mentioned in the living will.