Your Life, Your Choices
Planning for future medical decisions and end-of-life care helps ensure that you get the care you need and that it's delivered in ways that you're comfortable with.
Thinking about your own physical decline is difficult. But the fact is that more than 90 percent of us will die from a lengthy, life-threatening illness rather than suddenly, which means we not only have the time to plan but that we have a very good reason to ensure our wishes are documented.*
Make Your Voice Heard
Taking the time to plan now puts you in charge of medical decisions and means your voice will be heard even if you're no longer able to make your own decisions or speak. Advance planning also ensures that care will be delivered in ways that honor your values, beliefs, culture, and religion.
Three Main Steps
Make your goals, values, and choices known to your family, friends, and doctors.
Complete advance planning forms.
Make your plans a part of your medical record.
Advance Planning Forms
- Health Care Proxy Form (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care): Designates a spokesperson to make decisions for you in case you're unable to speak for yourself due to illness or injury.
- Living Will/Directive to Physicians: Allows you to specify whether you do or do not want artificial life support in case you can't speak for yourself.
- Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST): Some types of care can be invasive, detrimental, or simply against your wishes. The POLST details your position about CPR, artificial breathing, artificial fluids and nutrition, and the use of antibiotics.
The 5 Ds
Advance planning is a fluid process. You should update your forms:
1. After the death of a loved one.
2. After a divorce.
3. With a decline in health status.
4. When there is a new diagnosis.
5. If nothing changes, every new decade.
Advance planning is a gift you can give yourself now—and it's a gift you can give your family or those you think might help care for you in the future.