An advance directive is a legal document that can be made free of cost. Without this legal document, your health care providers do not know your important medical care decisions such as life-support, pain management or hospice choices.
An advance directive such as medical Power of Attorney gives you control over your health care decisions, and provides information to the health care team for you if you are unable to communicate. It is especially helpful if you are suddenly facing hospice or palliative care after an accident or serious illness. It guides the decisions of the health care team and provides comfort to your family, preventing them from guessing what it is that you would want.
The best time to create an advance directive is before you are sick, when you have a clear understanding about your options and can communicate them to your family and doctor.
If you cannot speak for yourself and have not assigned someone medical Power of Attorney, your health care providers will look to your family or close friends to help make decisions about your care. If they are unsure or cannot agree, a court-appointed guardian may be requested to make the decisions for you.
There are several types of advance directives available to you. In addition to the Five Wishes® Power of Attorney for Healthcare document, you can use:
No, you do not need both; however, if you have both, the Power of Attorney for Health Care will take precedence.
No, it isn't necessary to create a new advance directive. You should only make a new advance directive if you wish to include more information. The old document can be changed or revoked at any time. You can make changes with a new living will form, writing and addendum, or by telling your healthcare provider.
Keep it in a safe place and let your family or others close to you know where they can find it if needed. If you travel, you may wish to take a copy with you. Give a copy to:
We have many caregivers who have training to help you complete an advance directive. Call1-888-863-5502 for help.