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Advance Directives

What if one day you become so ill or suffer a traumatic injury so severe that you are unable to make your own medical decisions? Others may have to speak for you and make decisions on your behalf. But would they know what your personal values or health-care wishes were?

You can make sure that no one has to guess by creating an "advance directive." That's the official term for two documents--a living will, in which patients indicate their wishes about the type of medical care they wish to receive if they became terminally ill (or permanently unconscious, in New Hampshire and some other states), and a durable power of attorney for health care, which designates someone to make medical decisions on a patient's behalf if the patient is unable to do so.

Some reasons people have given for having an advance directive:

  • I can retain some control.
  • Because I should be in charge of my own health-care decisions, even when I can't communicate.
  • I want my doctor to know my wishes.
  • Well-thought-out decisions need to be made before something happens, not in the Emergency Room.
  • Because I love my family and it's the right thing to do.
  • It eases my mind and my family's mind.
  • I don't want to leave my family (or friends) feeling guilty when/if they have to make a decision for me.

Anyone within DHMC's service area who would like assistance in filling out an advance directive is invited to contact DHMC's Office of Care Management, by phone (603-650-5789).

Other available resources include:
Foundation for Healthy Communities
American Hospital Association (has links to resources for other states)

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