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Advance Medical Directives

Advance Medical Directives

A subject that is hard to think about and sometimes hard to talk about.

Fall is here, the time when Colorado turns into a riot of beautiful color and we all feel blessed to live in such a beautiful state. Hard to think about a time when maybe your mother or your father or grandmother or grandfather isn’t going to be here to share it with you.  Some of you may know that I took care of my ill father for many years. It was a difficult and stressful time.  It is very hard to see someone you love ill and suffering.  We all want to do the right thing for our loved ones, but sometimes it is hard to know what the right thing is.  If you can talk with your parents about a medical directive when they are healthy, in the unfortunate event that the time comes when they cannot make their wishes known, the documents will be in place to help you.  It was a huge comfort for me when taking care of my father that I knew what he would have wanted. For me, it made a difficult time much easier.   Also, if your loved one makes their wishes known, it can keep a family from arguing and conflict during a stressful time.

Colorado law is clear that every adult has the legal right to consent to or refuse medical treatment, and may declare their wishes in writing in the event that they cannot communicate their wishes at a later time.  Most hospitals ask their patients about these rights, and making your wishes known in the event you are incapacitated can be very helpful to doctors and to your family.  Most hospitals ask for any advance medical directives you may have, and many even provide a short form for you to make the decisions on the spot.  You are not required to have any advance medical directives in order to receive care, treatment or be admitted.

There are five primary types of advance medical directives:

1) Living Wills;

2) CPR Orders/Do Not Resuscitate Orders;

3) Medical/Heath Care Power of Attorney;

4) Disposition of Last Remains Declarations;

5) Organ and Tissue Donation Declarations.

An advance medical directive document may incorporate several of these directives.  Signing an advanced medical directive does not take away your right to make medical decisions if you are able to do so, but allows your beliefs and decisions to be carried out if you become unable to communicate them for yourself.

If you do not execute any advance medical directives or appoint a person to make decisions for you and you become incapacitated, your loved ones may have to go to court and pursue a guardianship so they have the authority to make medical decisions for you.  Having to obtain a guardianship can be both costly and stressful for
family members.  They might have to spend time precious time filling out forms and going to court, time that would be much better spent at the bedside of a loved one who is ill.

Talk about this with your family, I know that it is hard, but it is important and one day you will be glad that you did.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  Lisa Danny-Roberts 720-684-4378 or

Posted in Elder Law, Social Security Appeals.