Advance Planning Guide

In this era of ever-increasing technology, it can sometimes become difficult to distinguish between life-saving and life-prolonging medical interventions.  enBloom has culled the web to pull together the best Advance Planning resources.  Use this glossary and directory of resource links to make sure that your values and wishes are known and respected in the event of traumatic injury or in your final transition at the end-of-life. (This information is neither medical nor legal advice and is intended for informational purposes only.)


Advance Directives are a set of written instructions you create for your family and medical professionals regarding your preferences and the medical care you wish to receive.  Should you become too sick to make or communicate your health care decisions, these instructions (and possibly your designated medical power of attorney) will convey these decisions on your behalf.  They can be prepared by anyone aged 18 or older.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order is a request to not have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed on you, should your heart stop or if you stop breathing.  A common element in an Advanced Directive, it can be placed in your medical chart by your doctor.  It can also be placed on file with your family doctor, local emergency services and companies such as MedicAlert.

Hospice Care is a form of palliative care that focuses primarily on keeping the terminally ill patient comfortable during the dying process.  There are some overnight hospice facilities that take patients with a life expectancy of six months or less, but most hospice care in the US occurs in the patient’s home.  If you prefer to die in the comfort of your own home, you can use an Advanced Directive to specify this wish. 

Living Wills (Health Care Declarations or Health Care Directives) are written, legal documents that state specifically, the medical treatments and/or life-sustaining interventions (such as mechanical ventilation, feeding and hydration assistance via tube or IV, and dialysis) that you wish or do not wish to receive and under what circumstances.  A common element in an Advanced Directive.

Medical Power of Attorney (POA or Health Care Proxy) is a written, legal document (the durable power of attorney form) designating a specific individual to make medical decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so.  Using your living will as a guide, they interpret your wishes when medical developments are not specifically addressed by the living will.  In the absence of this document, this responsibility goes to your legal spouse by default.  In the absence of a spouse, the responsibility goes to your adult children or parents.  This is a common element in an Advance Directive.

Organ & Tissue Donation Your wishes to donate your organs and tissue can also be documented in your Advance Directive.

Palliative Care (or Comfort Care) is medical treatment whose focus is to improve the patient quality of life through aggressive pain management and relief from psychological, emotional and spiritual stress.  this treatment can occur during the dying process or in tandem with a curative course of treatment.

Last modified:  4/18/2013


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