Making Healthcare Decisions

Advance Care Planning

Planning ahead will help prevent others from having to guess what you would want and helps relieve your family and friends from having to make those decisions for you.

Take action:

  1. Choose who your Healthcare Agent will be.
  2. Think about your preferences.
  3. Write down your treatment choices while you are able to think clearly.
  4. Discuss your values and choices with the person you have chosen as your decision maker and your family. This will help them carry out your wishes.

Advance Directives

When possible, it is advisable to make your health care decisions in advance, by establishing in writing your ‘Advance Directive.’ The most common directives are a Medical Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and a DNR Order.

  • A Medical Durable Power of Attorney allows you to designate who will be your decision-maker (Healthcare Agent) and what kind of medical care you want, when you are unable to speak for yourself.
  • A Living Will is a statement of life-sustaining choices in a very limited set of circumstances.
  • A DNR Order (Do Not Resuscitate Order) provides instructions for healthcare providers, including emergency medical services, telling them not to revive you. You should make sure you have communicated these instructions to your doctor ahead of time.

We recommend you talk with your doctor about medical conditions which might make having an advance directive useful. Discuss with your family your wishes and beliefs about medical care.

If you have prepared an advance directive, make sure that copies are given to your family and/or anyone whom you have asked to act on your behalf as your Healthcare Agent. It is your responsibility to provide these copies to your health care providers.

Healthcare Agents

What are my Healthcare agent’s responsibilities?

  • To ensure your healthcare wishes are followed when you are unable to make your own decisions known or understood, even if your wishes about a specific treatment are not known.
  • To consider your beliefs and what is important to you and then to try to decide as you would decide.
  • It is important to choose a Healthcare Agent who can respect your wishes and not substitute their own.
  • Your Healthcare Agent has no control over your money unless you specifically give them that power in a separate legal document.

How do I make sure my family and doctors respect my choice of Healthcare Agent and my medical wishes?

  • Discuss your choice of Healthcare Agent and your treatment preferences with family members and your doctor ahead of time.
  • Plan to sign a form called an Advance Directive, which designates who your Healthcare Agent is, along with your treatment choices.
  • Obtain a form through the hospital, your attorney or other healthcare organizations.
  • Ask questions of your doctor as your health changes, so that you can discuss about what choices are appropriate now.