What is an Advance Directive?

You may have heard the term before in a medical environment, or you may have received “Pre-op” paperwork in which these words were written, and you may not quite understand what they mean. The following are some informational guidelines about Advance Directives that you might find helpful.


  1. An Advance Directive is a legal document that explains how you want medical decisions about you to be made if you cannot make the decisions yourself.
  2. An Advance Directive lets your health care team and your loved ones know what kind of health care you want, or who you want to make decisions for you when you can not.
  3. There are different types of Advance Directives, the three more common ones being (a) The Living Will; (b) Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders; (c)Durable Power of Attorney for health care / Medical Power of Attorney.
  4. Everyone over the age of 18 should have an Advance Directive on file. People often think they are too healthy to have an Advance Directive.
  5. If you don’t have an Advance Directive, and become unable to make medical decisions by yourself, you could be given medical care that you would not have wanted. If there’s no Advance Directive, the doctor may ask your family about your treatment.

You can find additional information on www.cancer.org

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