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Advance Directive


An Advance Directive is a set of written instructions expressing how you want future health care decisions made if you are unable to make them yourself.  If you can't make treatment decisions, your doctor will ask your closest available relative or friend to help decide what is best for you. 

Most of the time, that works.  But sometimes everyone doesn't agree about what to do.  That's why it is helpful to prepare in advance what you want to happen if you can't speak for yourself.

Advance Health Care Directive


Before you sign: Choose which sections you wish to include, and fill in the blanks.  If you want to add specific instructions in your own words, you may do so. You should be 18 or older if you wish your advance directive to be legally binding. If you need more space, attach extra sheets and sign or initial at the bottom of each sheet.

After you sign: Have two witnesses sign, also. If you are appointing a health care representative, sit down with him/her and talk about your wishes and goals for your care.  Give copies to: (1) your health care representative, if you are appointing one; (2) your doctor and other health care providers, such as your hospital, home health care agency, or nursing facility; (3) close family members or friends.  When you give them a copy of your advance directive, take some time to explain what it says and what your wishes are.

Important Word Definitions

Artificial Nutrition and Hydration is when food and water are given to a person through a tube or needle because the person is no longer able to swallow.

Autopsy is an examination done on a body to find out the cause of death.

Comfort Care is care that helps to keep a person comfortable and control pain.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is emergency treatment that tries to restart a person's breathing or heartbeat after they have stopped. CPR can include pushing on the chest, putting a tube down the throat, and other emergency steps.

Health Care Appointment is an advance directive in which you appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if the time ever comes when you cant make them yourself. It is also called a "Health Care Proxy" or a "Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare."

Life Sustaining Treatment is any medical treatment that is used to keep a person from dying. A breathing machine, CPR, and artificial nutrition and hydration are examples of lifesustaining treatments.

Health Care Directive is an advance directive in which you say what forms of medical treatment you do or do not want if you become terminally ill or are in a persistent vegetative state.

Organ and Tissue Donation is when a person permits his/her organs (such as eyes or kidneys) and other parts of the body (such as skin) to be removed after death to be transplanted to another person or used for education or research.

Persistent Vegetative State is when a person is unconscious with no hope of regaining consciousness even with medical treatment. The body may move and eyes may be open, but as far as anyone can tell, the person can't think or respond.

Being Terminally Ill means having an injury or illness that has no cure and from which doctors expect the person to die, even with medical treatment.