Everyone likes to get to choose. Whether it’s something as trivial what to eat, or something as big as a spouse or a job, we want to be the one to choose.

You have the right to decide what you want done (or not done) regarding your medical treatment. Unfortunately, you may not be able to voice your preferences when the moment comes; this could be because you had a bad accident, or medical event such as a stroke or heart attack. How will the medical team and your loved ones know what you prefer if you’ve never told them?

Some very simple legal documents called Advanced Directives will be your voice when you cannot communicate your preferences. In Iowa the two main documents are Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and a Living Will. The power of attorney means that if you are not able to state your wishes, you have appointed someone to do so. This only takes effect when you are unable to speak for yourself.

If you don’t have written Advanced Directives, discuss this with your family, medical professional and attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, Iowa Legal Aid can assist you.