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A living will and a medical power of attorney are types of
advance directives. These forms describe the kinds of medical care you want to
receive if you're badly hurt or have a serious illness that keeps you from
saying what you want. A medical power of attorney lets you name a person to be
your health care agent. He or she can make decisions for you if you can't speak
Many states have a unique form (for example, they may ask you to address specific issues). Or you might use a universal form that has been approved by many states. This kind of form can sometimes be completed and stored online. Your electronic copy will then be available wherever you have a connection to the Internet. Doctors typically respect your wishes even if you have a form from a different state.
It may be
hard to know what to include in your advance directive. Take your time, and use
the questions below to help you get started.
Do you have any other thoughts about what quality of life
means to you and how much control you want to have over it?
Here are some other questions to think about:
You may find it hard to answer some of these questions. Here's
a way to help make things more clear.
Try to picture yourself in
each of the situations listed below. Then think about what you would like to
happen if you couldn't say what you wanted. As you read through each example,
write down any thoughts that come to you.
Try this exercise again with a few more "what if" situations.
This time you might think about what your doctor says about your chances for
recovery and how that might affect what you decide to do. You may see some
patterns develop that can help you decide what to include in your advance
These decisions are tough to make, but you don't have
to make them alone. Look to your family, your doctor, and your friends for help
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& Shelly R. Garone, MD, FACP - Palliative Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
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