Advance Care Directives
An Advance Care Directive allows you to authorise another person (known as your Substitute Decision-Maker) to make medical and lifestyle decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself.
If desired, you can also express your wishes and preferences regarding your future health care, personal matters, living arrangements and end of life decisions to assist your Substitute Decision-Maker to make those decisions. Your Substitute Decision-Maker can only act for you in the event you become mentally incapacitated. An Advance Care Directive does not relate to financial decisions.
Why have an Advance Care Directive?
Having an Advance Care Directive means that, prior to developing or suffering an incapacitating illness or injury, you can choose a Substitute Decision-Maker and give them directions about the medical and lifestyle decisions you want them to make for you.
Anyone who has a family history of illnesses that cause mental incapacity such as dementia or stroke should consider having an Advance Care Directive. They are also commonly prepared by people who have strong views about what treatment they want (or do not want) to receive at the end of their lives (such as artificial life support).
Who should you appoint as your Substitute Decision-Maker?
You choose who you want to appoint as your Substitute Decision-Maker. If you are married, it is usual to appoint your spouse. It is also common to appoint an adult child or children if your spouse cannot act for you. Due to the nature of the decisions your Substitute Decision-Maker would be making for you, you should only appoint a trusted person who will carry out your wishes.