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Who should complete advance directives?

We recommend that anyone eighteen years of age or older, with decision-making capacity, complete an advance directive. “Decision-making capacity” means someone who doesnothave a current condition that led healthcare providers to determine they are unable to make decisions for themselves. So, for example, someone with advanced dementia would not have decision-making capacity and cannot complete an advance directive. If they are able to, they can certainly communicate their wishes in another way, but they cannot complete an advance directive.

Completing advance directives is a good idea even if you are not elderly or terminally ill. They are not just for the end of life! Advance directives may be acted upon even if you become temporarily unable to make your own health care decisions (and are expected to recover the ability to do so), for example, if you are under general anesthesia or have Covid and need to go on a ventilator. If/when you again become able to make your own health care decisions, then advance directives will no longer be referred to, since you can once again express your own wishes.

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