Advance Directives

Advance Directives 400

An Advance Directive (AD) is a written statement about your future medical care. It is a gift to family members and friends so that they won’t have to guess what you want if you no longer can speak for yourself.

Why do I need an Advance Directive? Medical technology makes it possible for patients with little or no hope of recovery to be kept alive for months or even years. This makes it important for you to discuss what kind of care you want before illness occurs.

Now is the time to talk about these important issues, while you can still make your own decisions and have time to talk about them with others. If you don’t have an advance directive, and even one person interested in your care disagrees, your doctor may not honor your wishes for end of life care.

What do I put in my advance directives? The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want. You can say whether or not you want to be kept alive by machines that breathe for you or feed you even if there is no hope you’ll get better. The person you want to make decisions for you when you cannot. This person (or agent) does not have to be an attorney. Unless you limit your agent’s authority, your agent has the right to accept or refuse any kind of medical care and testing, discharge or select doctors, and see all medical records. Your wishes for comfort care. You can indicate whether you want medicine for pain or where you want to spend your last days. You can also give spiritual, ethical and religious instructions.

How can I ensure that my advance directive is honored? Share copies and talk with people who will be involved in your care. Ask your doctor to make your advance directive part of your medical records.