What are Advance Directives and why do they matter

Peace of mind goes a long way in difficult situations.

 Advanced Directives Blog

Planning for end of life care or other emergencies can be uncomfortable, but it's a vital step to make sure your wishes are properly documented and followed prior to being hospitalized.

Even if you’ve had discussions with your loved ones about what you’d want, it’s highly recommended that you put your preferences into a legally binding agreement, also known as an advance directive.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive provides instructions for medical care that go into effect in the event you are unable to communicate your own wishes. Advance directives include any of the following:

  • Living Will
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
  • Written statements expressing a patient’s wishes regarding treatment and/or end-of-life care
  • Patient statements regarding treatment and/or end-of-life care documented in the medical record

While not required, you may consider consulting an attorney to help create an advance directive. They can go into more detail and help you set up your desired plan.


Why do I need an advance directive?

Simply put, it helps protect you and your loved ones in the event you are unable to make end-of-life decisions. Documenting those decisions takes the burden off your loved ones from having to navigate hard decisions during difficult times without your approval. Avoiding unnecessary pain, expenses, procedures, potential family conflict, and stress are just a few of the benefits you can expect.

Peace of mind goes a long way in difficult situations like these, making it easier for friends and family to focus on supporting you through these tough moments.

Who Needs an Advance Directive?

It’s recommended that anyone over age 18 have an advance directive. However, it’s especially important for those who are more at-risk for medical emergencies or are at an older age.

If you have an illness or haven’t set up an advance directive, it’s important that you make plans to set one up as soon as possible.

How to Set Up an Advance Directive

If you haven’t already set up an advance directive, or if you’d like to consider making updates to an existing one, try these steps:

1. Think through what details are most important to you for end-of-life care. For example, do you want:

a. Hospice care

b. To be pain free

c. To spend your last days at home

d. Chest compressions if your heart stops

e. A breathing tube inserted

2. Talk with your doctor about your wishes and how they align with your current health.

3. Discuss your thoughts with your loved ones and if necessary, consult an attorney or agent.

4. Complete your advance directive form(s).

5. Share your completed forms with your loved ones, trusted healthcare providers, and/or lawyer.


Learn More

Rules, guidance, and laws may differ by state. For more information, review the following based on where you live:





While no one likes thinking about the “worst-case scenario,” making plans now will save you and your family unnecessary stress and struggle in the future. Even if you start small and modify your plans down the road, it’s always a smart choice to be proactive with your future.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal or medical advice. Links to other sites are provided as a convenience, but Select Health does not endorse the third-party sites, information, or services.

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