Paula concludes that one major reason we avoid implementing an Advance Directive is that we misunderstand it's intent. Many people may associate the document with "pulling the plug" when, in fact, the document allows you to state your wishes - whatever they may be. If you want full medical interventions in the event of an accident or illness, you can state that in the document as well. It's not only for people who have decided against aggressive medical treatments.
Another misconception is that Advance Directives are only for the elderly or very ill. This is also very untrue. I am in my 30's, very healthy, and I have already implemented one for myself. I've also talked with my assigned Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and my assigned alternate DPOA about different medical scenarios and how I would want to be treated in each one. In an eye opening discussion with my DPOA (who happens to be my husband) I asked what he would do if I had a terrible case of pneumonia and needed to be intubated (a tube inserted into my trachea to help me breath). He immediately replied, "I'd pull the plug, just like you wanted." We laugh about it now, but it shows the importance of discussing several scenarios and how each one applies to your Advance Directive. (For the record, if I am in a persistent vegetative state and doctors want to intubate me, forget it; for severe pneumonia, which carries the possibility of a full cure, please do.)
Do you have your Advance Directive in place?