By: Olivia R. Holcombe-Volke, Esq.
It is rare to find someone who enjoys contemplating what they want done in the event they are suffering from a terminal condition that will lead to death, or are in a persistent vegetative state, or are incapacitated and affected by an end stage condition that will continue until one’s passing away. Whether on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon, these are unpleasant situations to think and make decisions about (and put in writing), as to “pulling the plug” or receiving all medical interventions possible to stay alive. And yet, an Advance Medical Directive is one of the most important documents people can have, serving as a voice for when they are unable to speak for themselves.
Fortunately, there is a way to personalize the document, to make it less dry and formal and more representative, if so desired, of the actual “voice” of the person executing the document. There is the ability to set forth a “statement of goals and values,” which can be used to express love and appreciation to friends and family, for that time when someone is no longer able to express these sentiments him or herself. It can be used to make requests for certain activities or actions, such as being read to or taken for walks or out of doors. It can be an opportunity to say goodbye, or to set forth what someone wishes to say as a final message to those being left behind.
The personal statement aspect of an Advance Medical Directive is not a necessity; the document is certainly valid without such personalization, and many people choose not to include anything of this sort. But the option is there, and can serve as a source of comfort when making the inevitably uncomfortable decisions about end-of-life treatment.