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Advance Directives

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Summary

What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes? Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on.

A living will tells which treatments you want if you are dying or permanently unconscious. You can accept or refuse medical care. You might want to include instructions on

  • The use of dialysis and breathing machines
  • If you want to be resuscitated if your breathing or heartbeat stops
  • Tube feeding
  • Organ or tissue donation

A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that names your health care proxy. Your proxy is someone you trust to make health decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Start Here

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging)
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
  • (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization) - PDF
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in

Related Issues

  • (Administration for Community Living) - PDF
  • (American Hospice Foundation)
  • (American College of Physicians) - PDF

Specifics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (American Cancer Society)
  • (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging) Also in
  • (National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization)

Find an Expert

  • (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization) - PDF
  • (National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives)

Seniors

  • (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)

Patient Handouts

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