End of Life Planning
An advance directive is a legal document that describes how you want medical decisions to be made if you cannot make the decisions yourself. If you become ill or injured and are unable to communicate your decisions, an advance directive lets your health care team and loved ones know what kind of care you want, or who you want to make decisions for you. An advance directive typically consists of a living will and power of attorney.
A living will is one part of an advance directive. It is a written document that defines your wishes about medical treatments and what should or should not be done if you are no longer able to express your preferences. But without a medical power of attorney established, a living will fails to provide the flexibility of a proxy who can make decisions on your behalf.
Power of Attorney
The durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions, or DPOA, is another part of an advance directive. This allows you to name a proxy representative who will speak on behalf of your values and wishes if you are not able to speak for yourself because of illness, injury or debilitation. The DPOA should be a trusted family member or close friend who understands your wishes and is mentally and emotionally capable of making healthcare decisions on your behalf. Communicate with this individual about your end-of-life wishes to ensure that they understand your current feelings and your way of thinking.