Oregon was the first state to adopt an advanced directive as part of legislation in the nation. Now, Oregon House Bill 4135 is on the docket proposing to establish an advanced directive adoption committee for purposes of adopting and updating the current advanced directive form.
An advanced directive is a legal document appointing a healthcare representative to make decisions for someone when that person becomes incapacitated. It does not cover situations where a person is able to make their own medical decisions.
It also allows a person to provide directions and preferences for receiving (or not receiving) life sustaining treatments, including tube feeding and life support, when one or more serious conditions exist.
The advanced directive has not been updated since 1993. The new House Bill aims to establish a committee to review the current advanced directive form and then review it in regular intervals going forward.
A similar bill was presented in the Oregon Senate last year. That bill did not make it out of committee. The revision of the advanced directive form is a contentious topic in the law right now and many people are eager for an option to provide more specific directions for end of life care while they have the autonomy to do so, particularly in cases of dementia or other degenerative conditions that are not well addressed by the current form.
This issue is not limited to Oregon. In fact, around the country, more and more people are trying to figure out ways to document their wishes for healthcare should they suffer from a dementia-related disease. The medical community has also struggled with this issue. In fact, advocacy groups, doctors, and lawyers have come together in a variety of context to create different directives that would address these particular issues.
Please keep in mind that the forms of dementia directives are not the same as a legally binding advanced directive. However, any document that can better outline your decisions and your thoughts for your own care can be helpful for your medical staff, your friends, and your family. It is also of great importance that these issues are discussed openly so that the people who care for you, and are in the position to make decisions for you when you are not able to do so, have a good understanding and grasp of what your true wishes would be.