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How To Decide: What Would I Want To Happen Medically If I Cannot Speak For Myself?


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If you become unable to speak for yourself, to avoid being put through treatments and processes you do not want, and to get those you do, it is necessary to: 

  • First, think about your values and what is important to you. For help thinking about your values, click here. 
  • Then think ahead to various common scenarios such as those described in this document and decide how you would want to be treated if such situations arise. For about circumstances to think about, click here. For information about treatments to think about, click here. (NOTE: If you do not want to think about specific circumstances, it can be enough to convey your general values to the person who you appoint to act as your Proxy under a Health Care Power Of Attorney.)

Even thinking about these subjects can be emotionally unsettling for a healthy person, much less for a person who has been diagnosed. Before proceeding, think about which is the easiest way for you to deal with this subject. Is it better to think it through first on your own? To first talk about it with someone such as your spouse, significant other or best friend? To think in terms of what you would want for your best friend or child?

Consider discussing this subject and particular treatments with your doctor. Your doctor likely has first hand experience with the problems and conflicts that can arise, and may be able to contribute ideas or advice. To allow time for a thoughtful discussion, make an appointment just for that purpose.

Once your opinion is formed you are ready to move to drafting the actual documents to effectuate those wishes. See Living Wills, Healthcare Power Of Attorney and Do Not Resuscitate. Also see Advance Directive For Mental Health

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