A Simple and Smart Way to Take Charge of Your Care

One of the most important decisions you can make about your care is to fill out advance directives in case you can no longer speak for yourself. Advance directives are legal documents that let others know your wishes about the type of care you want. And they will only be used if you become unconscious or too ill to communicate yourself. Directives can include:


The Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is a medical order form that empowers individuals by carefully detailing their personal wishes regarding end-of-life care. POLST complements an Advance Directive and does not totally replace that document. You may still need an advance directive to appoint a legal healthcare administrator. It is recommended that all adults have an advance directive regardless of their health status. If there is a conflict between the documents, have a conversation with your practitioner as soon as possible to determine the most current preferences.

Living Will

This set of instructions explains the type of life-prolonging medical care you wish to accept or refuse. It can include your wishes about the use of CPR if your heart stops, a ventilator if you stop breathing, or feeding tubes or IVs if you cannot eat or drink.

Durable Power of Attorney

For healthcare: This is a legal document that names your healthcare proxy—someone who can make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to do so. An official healthcare proxy can represent your wishes on emergency care but also on other medical issues like potential treatment options, blood transfusions, kidney dialysis, etc. Choose someone you trust, discuss your medical wishes, and make sure the person agrees to represent you in this role.

For finances: You also have the right to appoint someone or the same person to help manage your finances if you cannot.

Fill Out Your Forms

Make sure you submit advance directives each time you go to the hospital, so your most current information and wishes are on file. You do not need a lawyer to fill these out. For more information and to obtain the forms you need, contact the social work department.

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