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Questions & Answers: Advance Directives and End of Life Decisions

What should I tell my agent?

Your agent needs to know about the quality of life that is important to you and when and how aggressively you would want medical treatments provided.

For example, if you had a massive stroke, would you want to receive aggressive treatments (such as mechanical ventilation, antibiotics, or tube feeding) for a time, but have them stopped if there were no improvement in your condition? What kind of treatment would you want if you were in a state of prolonged unconsciousness and were not expected to recover? Would you want life support or would you rather receive palliative (comfort) care only? What are your views about artificial nutrition and hydration (tube feeding)? Do you want to receive these types of treatment no matter what your medical condition? On a trial basis? Never? If your heart stopped, under what circumstances would you want doctors to use CPR to try to resuscitate you?

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Talking to your agent means discussing values and quality-of-life issues as well as treatments and medical situations. Because situations could occur that you may not anticipate, your agent may need to base a decision on what he or she knows about your values and your views of what makes life worth living. These are not simple questions, and your views may change. For this reason, you need to talk to your agent in depth and over time.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

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