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Advance Directives - Take control of your future

Take Control of Your Future Care With an Advance Directive

Most of us believe we'll always be healthy and in control of our own decisions. But an accident or serious illness can take away that freedom in a heartbeat.

Who will make decisions for you should you lose the ability to do so?

When you lose the ability to communicate your wishes, doctors turn to your loved ones to make medical decisions. If that happened to you, would your family know the treatment that you want? Having a living will and naming a power of attorney are ways to ensure you remain in control of your healthcare treatment even when you can't speak.

It's essential to start having these advance directive conversations now. It won't be easy to talk about your end-or-life, but talking about it now can remove a significant burden on your loved ones.

There are three steps to taking control of your future with an advance directive:

1. Give thought to it
2. Speak to your family
3. Write down your wishes

About Advance Directives

Advance directive planning is an essential part of healthcare for all adults, regardless of age or medical conditions (if any). It's an ongoing process about what type of treatment you would want if a sudden change in health leaves you unable to speak for yourself. Knowing your wishes ahead of time is an excellent gift for your loved ones and can relieve stress if asked to make decisions for you.

Choosing a person you trust to make decisions for you is an essential first step. This person is called a healthcare agent. It's necessary to discuss your options and wishes with your healthcare team, your healthcare agent, and your loved ones. It is also essential to write down your decisions using an advance directive.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a written record of your decisions regarding your medical treatment. In North Carolina, an advance directive includes three forms: a healthcare power of attorney, a living will, and advanced mental health treatment instruction. In South Carolina, an advance directive consists of two forms: a healthcare power of attorney and a living will.

A HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY is a legal form in which you, a healthcare agent, to be in charge of your care when you cannot make decisions.

A LIVING WILL is a declaration of a desire for a natural death and is a legal document that allows you to express your wishes by choosing not to receive life-prolonging measures if you:

• Have an incurable or irreversible condition that will result in death in the short term.
• Are unconscious and cannot regain consciousness.
• Have a condition that has led to a substantial loss of your ability to think.

Through the links below, you can learn more about each step and access forms, instructions, and tips:

NC Advance Directives Form (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
SC Advance Directives Form (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Learn more about National Healthcare Decisions Day and Advanced Directives by visiting The Conversation Project website at Don't delay; take this opportunity to review the material on this website and assure that your decisions are documented and made known to the ones you love.

You may also contact the St. Luke's Case Management Department for assistance or questions at (828) 894-0911 or (828) 894-0916.