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The purpose of advance directives

Many Massachusetts residents over the age of 18 have or will write a last will and testament at some point. However, many might only consider how their finances or belongings will be divided after their passing without considering the possible need for medical care at some point in the future. Advance directives can help to prevent future problems or disagreements later in life when an individual is unable to make medical decisions. 

A small number of states have adopted what is referred to as the Death with Dignity Act, which allows doctors to prescribe medications intended to end a person's life. It is under consideration by the Massachusetts legislature, though it has been considered and rejected on multiple occasions previously. It isn't unusual for people to wait to make decisions regarding their end-of-life medical care. Unfortunately, many people wait too long to make these decisions, and by the time they have decided how they wish their care to be handled they have been deemed unfit to make the decision themselves.

In a recent survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only a quarter of the participants said that they have discussed their end-of-life care wishes with a physician. Those who have not discussed their wishes with a doctor or who do not have a living will or advance directive in place may find themselves forced to endure certain medical treatments. This may include being placed in an intensive care unit or being hooked up to feeding tubes or other machinery. 

Massachusetts residents who want to discuss the benefits of advance directives, living wills or other health care options may wish to contact an attorney in their area. Attorneys can help clients to understand their long-term health care options and choose those best suited to them. This may include instructions to administer or avoid certain medical treatments, or it may include instructions detailing how the individual would prefer to spend his or her last days.

Source: managedhealthcareexecutive.modernmedicine.com, "End-of-life care planning advancements: What health execs should know", Bob Kronemyer, Jan. 4, 2018

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