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AARP, State Agencies Promoting Advance Directives Across State

Completing a medical advance directive is also known as creating a "living will."(Ana Nestorvic/Twenty20)
Completing a medical advance directive is also known as creating a "living will."(Ana Nestorvic/Twenty20)
April 16, 2018

BALTIMORE -- Untimely or unexpected sickness or injuries can occur at any time. Now, Maryland AARP, the state Attorney General's Office and the Maryland Department of Aging are making sure citizens across the state can be as prepared as possible.

As part of National Healthcare Decisions Day, those groups are spreading awareness about advanced directives, often called "living wills." Raquel Coombs, director of communications at the Attorney General's Office, said the directive gives more power to the person who is ill.

"It gives you a certain level of control,” Coombs said. “And it's certainly not something that's required, but it's something that's smart to think ahead and make a plan for."

The living will names the person that would make health-care decisions in case the ill person is unable to speak for themselves.

Both the Attorney General's Office and Maryland AARP stress that this isn't a decision that only should to be made when you're older. Anyone 18 or older can have an advanced directive in case of an unforeseen situation.

Outside of family, a person can appoint a health care agent to speak for them instead. Ted Meyerson with Maryland AARP said having an advanced directive ahead of time can save everyone involved a lot of trouble.

"This is for anybody 18 years and older, and it is a way to avoid a lot of stress and grief, not only for the patient, but for the family,” Meyerson said. “The family need not guess about what the individual would have wanted."

The state notes that only about 30% of adults in Maryland have advance directives, with the rate even lower among minority groups.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD