Have you a plan in place should something happen to you?
An advance decision, also known as a living will, is a legally binding document which allows you to refuse medical treatment in future. Why would anyone need such a document? Sadly, the most leading cause for death globally is from cardiovascular diseases and the next is death from cancers. From the time of diagnosis to eventual death, there exists the possibility that you may become so ill that you are unable to make your own decisions on any further treatment.
What does that mean to you? Should you become incapacitated and therefore unable to communicate your own decisions, without an advance decision, the medical protocol would be to keep you alive at all costs! When you have such a document in place, it only becomes valid when you lose the capacity to make or communicate any decisions. Essentially, an advance care plan might mean all the difference between a future where you get to make all the important decisions about your end of life rather than others making them for you!
Life expectancy in Spain is slightly higher than the UK and reports show people living longer in both countries. Sadly, half of that time that should be spent enjoying the golden years, will be living with at least one chronic disease! The worrying trend means dementia is fast becoming a leading cause of death in both men and women.*
Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT) is also included as well as any extra information you may wish to consider such as the type of funeral you want, where you wish to die or whether you wish for your organs to be donated. A document of this type allows for regular revision, since we may change our ideas as we grow older and such an option is to be encouraged.
In Spain, each region has their own version of the Declaración de Voluntades Anticipadas and they are stored centrally as long as you register them at the appropriate government offices. In the UK any advance plan would be kept at your GP’s practice. Both Spain and the UK advise you to consult a medical professional when filling out your document and you are free to choose someone to act on your behalf should the day come that you are unable.
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