Questions Families Should Ask About Advance Directives

Elder Law Birmingham, AL: Advance Directives
Elder Law Birmingham, AL: Advance Directives
Elder Law Birmingham, AL: Advance Directives

Not everyone has to be in critical condition to need someone else to make important medical decisions for them. Medical proxies are commonly used after a heart attack, stroke, cancer diagnosis, or when cognitive impairment is present. Your parents may have years of life left, but with diseases like dementia or strokes, it can be hard to vocalize your wishes.

Do your parents have advance directives in place? It’s time to discuss this essential legal form. Sit down with your parents and find out more about their wishes. Make sure they know the importance of advance directives.

Have They Thought About Their Wishes and Preferences?

Ask your parents if they’ve considered what they’d want for care if they became too ill or cognitively impaired to make their own decisions? They need to consider how they’d feel about being on a ventilator or feeding tube in different situations. If there was a chance the procedure or surgery would drastically change their abilities, would they want to undergo that treatment? 

What about pain management? If your dad or mom is a former addict, there may be medications that they would not want to be used. They may have religious objections to certain treatments or surgical procedures that have to be considered. Some of the things they have to consider include the answers to questions like, “would you want treatments if…”

  • You couldn’t interact with or recognize your friends and family?
  • You could no longer think clearly or vocalize your thoughts?
  • You had to rely on machinery to keep your heart beating or breathe?
  • You couldn’t swallow or chew your own food?
  • You were in severe pain with no possible cure?

What about their wishes after they die? Would they want to be buried or cremated? Do they want a memorial or service? Would they want everyone invited or just close family?

Who Would They Want as a Proxy?

With advance directives in place and filed with doctors, the doctors have to abide by your parents’ wishes. There’s also a power of attorney to consider. That person named on a POA acts as an agent, or proxy, to make sure doctors abide by the advance directives.

Ask who your parent would be comfortable naming to make decisions. The person has to be able to act as your mom and dad’s agent. A proxy has to be at least 18 years of age. That person cannot be your parents’ doctors or an employee of the doctor. It also cannot be an owner or operator of a nursing home or assisted living community.

Make sure your parents don’t put off their wishes. Talk to an elder law attorney about advance directives. It’s the best way to protect their interests if a medical emergency occurs. An elder law expert can go over the options, listen to your parents’ preferences, and draw up a legal document that can be shared with your mom and dad’s medical team.

If you or a loved one need assistance with Elder Law in Birmingham, AL contact The Alabama Elder Care Law Firm, LLC today. (205) 390-0101