Today is National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD)! NHDD started in 2008 as a way to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about advance care planning, and this year NHDD is whole week (starting today). For Georgians this week is all about getting people to talk to their loved ones about their healthcare wishes and to complete a Georgia Advance Directive. So, let’s start talking!
First, what is the Georgia Advance Directive?
It is a statutory document that combines the healthcare power of attorney and living will into one document. It is the primary advance care planning tool in Georgia and has four main goals:
- Names someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot or do not want to make your own healthcare decisions.
- Communicates your treatment preferences if you are ever in a coma or diagnosed with a terminal illness and cannot speak for yourself.
- States your wishes for cremation or burial.
- Allows you to recommend a guardian if you ever need a guardian in the future.
Who Needs an Advance Directive?
Almost every Georgian over the age of 18 should have an Advance Directive in place. This is not a form just for the elderly or the disabled. Accidents, sudden illnesses and healthcare crises are equal opportunity events that can cause severe impairment in any of us at anytime. Completing an Advance Directive proactively (before it’s too late) will authorize an informed person to make your important healthcare decisions should you be unable to do so.
Where can I find the form?
This is a statutory form and can be found for free online. You can download a copy here. After you print it out, complete it with your loved ones, sign it, and then have two witnesses sign it. No notary or attorney is required.
What do I do with the form once completed?
You should give a copy of this completed form to people who might need it, such as your health care agent(s), your family, and your physician. Keep a copy of this completed form at home in a place where it can easily be found if it is needed. Do not keep it in a safe or a safety deposit box. Review this completed form periodically to make sure it still reflects your wishes.
Completing a Georgia Advance Directive is an important step in planning ahead for future incapacity. It is never too early to talk to your loved ones about yours (and their heatlhcare wishes). We address this issue with each of our clients and their families, and we help them complete an advance directive when appropriate. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.