Lahey Clinic's Palliative Care Service patients often have to make decisions about advance care goals, and in some cases, end-of-life care before more serious medical problems or conditions occur. Advance directives are legal instructions about the types of medical care you would want to receive in the event of a terminal illness, coma or brain damage. The directions may be oral or written, and various states have different rules, but the most common advance directives are CPR directives, durable power of attorney for health care (DPOAHC), a living will and organ donation. Advance directives are important because without them, family members may be unaware of, or may misinterpret, your wishes regarding your care. It is recommended that you write down what you want to prevent confusion in managing your care and ensure your concerns are respected. While there are many different regulations and forms that must be dealt with when making these decisions, the overviews below can give you a general idea of why and how these advance directives are important.
Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that these types of decisions should be made now. Discuss what you want with your family and doctors, write it down, and make it legal. It might not always be easy to talk about, but planning your future health care can help spare you and your loved ones further difficulties in the future.