If you experience a significant medical event, your family members may be the ones who have to make decisions about your medical care. After a car crash, a stroke or even a heart attack, you may not be able to make your own decisions about the care that you need.

Your spouse or even your children may have to make those decisions on your behalf because you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. Although you may have spoken about your wishes in the past, it’s likely that your family members will struggle to recall every term you set during a stressful time.

Have you committed your medical preferences to writing yet?

There are many decisions to make about modern medical care

Advances in modern medicine mean that there are more treatment and therapy options than ever before. Some medical treatments might violate certain people’s religious beliefs. Other individuals past a certain age or with lifelong medical conditions may want less intensive intervention if they have a sudden medical event.

You may need to make decisions about whether you want to receive resuscitation if your condition worsens. Many people also have to think about life support, ranging from ventilator assistance to feeding tubes. You likely also have preferences regarding how long your family keeps you on such treatment or the maximum amount of money they pay for such care.

Pain relief can be a concern for people as well, with some people wanting as much as possible and others wanting a minimal amount to reduce the risk of addiction. Even blood transfusions and organ donation can be important decisions for certain individuals. The more detail you have down in writing for your family to reference, the easier it will be for your loved ones to uphold your medical preferences.

There are a number of ways to empower others to help with your medical care

There are several different ways that you can provide guidance to loved ones and protect your own medical wishes. You could use a medical power of attorney, a living will or even special forms officially declining certain care. Exploring these options in-depth can give you solutions that are optimal for your needs.