April 1, 2019

Advance Directives are Gifts for You and Your Loved Ones

Larry Antonucci portrait

Larry Antonucci

Life is unpredictable; accidents or illnesses can happen any time to anyone. Because of this uncertainty, it is important to consider and document your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event you are ever incapacitated, unable to speak and advocate for yourself.

An advance directive allows you to do just that by including a living will, which contains specific instructions about the use of life support. Common life support measures include a feeding tube, dialysis, CPR or a ventilator. When deciding on your preferences regarding life support, consider your values, lifestyle and future desires. Discuss your thoughts and feelings with your family members, and do the same with them, so you know their wishes, too.

The advance directive also allows you to designate a health care surrogate, which is someone you trust to make decisions if you are unable to make them yourself. It is crucial to have open, honest conversations with the person you choose, so you are, and they are, confident they will fulfill your wishes exactly as you outline them. It is important to note, a health care surrogate has no financial obligation and is never responsible for hospital bills.

All adults 18 years of age and older should have an advance directive. Revisit the document throughout your life, especially as you go through different stages, like getting married and having children.

In the state of Florida, it is especially important to have an advance directive because if you don't and you are incapacitated, state statute designates a health care proxy, which can be a guardian, a spouse, an adult child, an adult sibling, an adult relative, a close friend or a social worker. These people may or may not know your wishes, so an advance directive ensures health care professionals follow your wishes without question.

We have created this page on our website (click here) to provide more information, including frequently asked questions about advance directives. If you need assistance or have any further questions, our care managers, social workers and spiritual services team members can help you; you can find their contact information on the webpage.

Completing an advance directive requires you to have tough conversations with your loved ones. But, doing so relieves burdens, stress and anxiety if tragedy ever falls on your family. The advance directive ensures they will know what you want and can carry out your wishes exactly.

Yours in Health,

Larry Antonucci signatureLarry Antonucci, M.D., MBA

President & CEO, Lee Health

Thank you for your support. Together we are Caring People. Inspiring Health.