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Phone: 201-345-3018

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Planning Your Future: Advance Care Directives

Advance care directives are detailed requests for specific medical treatment, or the withholding of certain treatment, in the event that you become disabled and are not capable of giving such direction.

If you become terminally ill or are seriously injured, your doctor can use the advance care directive to guide his or her actions.

Advance care directives can also designate a family member or close friend to make medical and financial decisions for you under similar circumstances. As FamilyDoctor.org points out, advance directives usually tell doctors not to provide life-saving measures given certain circumstances, though they may also be used to request that everything be done to save your life.

After the jump, we will discuss three of the most important advance care directives for you to know.

  • A living will is a legal document, usually prepared with the help of an attorney, that details whether or not you want life-sustaining or medical treatment in the event that you become severely ill. You can also note whether or not you even want treatment at all.
  • A durable power of attorney allows you to select another individual to handle medical decisions for you in the event that you are not able to make them yourself. You cannot designate another individual to make these decisions in a living will. 
  • A do not resuscitate order is slightly smaller in scope and is essentially a request that medical personnel not attempt to resuscitate you if your heart or lungs fail. These forms are valid in hospitals across the country.

Whatever you choose to use in determining your end-of-life care, it is important to be thorough. Make sure that you know what you're selecting and that it is truly what you want.

Related Resource

  • Advance Directives and Do Not Resuscitate Orders (FamilyDoctor.org)

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