Healthy Boomers put off Advance Directives

The Associated Press has reported that 64% of Baby Boomers have not prepared a Living Will or other Health Care Advanced Directives.  When asked why, the majority say that they are healthy and fit, so they see no need to dwell on what might happen when they are older.

Experience tells us that a person doesn’t have to be old, or even ill, to find herself in a situation where she cannot express her own healthcare decisions. Terri Schiavo, whose case put this issue in the spotlight several years ago, was only 26 years old when she collapsed and went into a coma.   And even the most careful drivers can encounter bad weather, a drunk driver or other circumstance that would cause us to lose our ability to make decisions for ourselves.

Each state has its own forms for living wills and health care powers of attorney. While it is important to use the forms that comply with the law in the state in which you live, it is usually not necessary to pay an attorney to prepare them.  The forms are often available from hospitals, hospice organizations or even on line. In Arizona, for example, the forms  can be downloaded from the Attorney General’s website at www.azag.gov (click on “Life Care Planning).

While many of us think these tragedies will never happen to us, I suggest that you protect yourself, anyway. After all, no one expects our homes to burn down, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have insurance.  Once these documents are in place, you can put them aside and get back to your healthy, active lives.

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