Law for Older Americans

Health Care Advance Directives

How do you write an advance directive?

There are all kinds of advance directive forms out there—both official forms in state law and unofficial forms created by state medical and bar associations, national organizations, and others.

No form is perfect for everyone. Keep in mind that the form is to aid, and not take the place of, communication. The form is a tool for planning and not the final outcome of planning. Any form you use should be personalized to reflect your own values, after thoughtful discussion with health care providers, family, and advisors. And after the form is properly signed, discussion should not cease. Your views are likely to evolve over your lifetime.

Your instructions may cover any health care issue, such as:

  • states or levels of functioning in which you would not want (or want) life-sustaining treatment, e.g., states such as permanent unconsciousness or severe dementia
  • types of life-sustaining treatment you may want or not want and under what conditions
  • the use of artificial nutrition & hydration
  • instructions about any other specific medical procedure that may be expected, in light of your personal and family medical history
  • organ donation wishes
  • preferences regarding pain control and comfort care
  • preferences regarding other aspects of end-of-life care, such as your place of care and environmental wishes

>>What is a health care advance directive?
>>How do you plan a health care advance directive?
>>Is a health care advance directive the same as a living will?
>>Why can't I just tell my doctor what I want?
>>Will doctors and hospitals recognize my advance directive?
>>What is the Patient Self-Determination Act?
>>How do you write an advance directive?
>>What kinds of decisions does a health-care agent make?
>>How do you select a health-care agent?
>>Are there any formalities of signing an advance directive?
>>Can you change or terminate your advance directive?
>>Where should you keep the directive?
>>When should you review your advance directive?
>>Is an advance directive still good when you cross state lines?


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