Advance Directive: What to Include - Topic Overview
What concerns you the most?
- Are you worried that you'll have pain or be
kept alive on machines?
- Are you worried that you'll lose your
ability to function and live on your own or that you'll be a burden to your
- Are there things that scare you? Include your fears or
concerns in your advance directive.
What does quality of life mean to you?
- Do you want to be able to function and live on
- Are you okay with living in a hospital or nursing
- Are you okay with being kept alive by machines?
Do you have any other thoughts about what quality of life
means to you and how much control you want to have over it?
Here are some other questions to think about:
- Where do you want to spend the last days of your
life? Would it be in the hospital or at home?
- Do you have any
medical problems right now that affect your way of life?
- Do you have an implanted cardiac device that may need to be deactivated at some point? This includes some types of pacemakers and ICDs (implantable cardioverter-defibrillators).
- Do you
want to donate your organs when you die?
- Can you talk to your
doctor about end-of-life issues?
- Do your religious or spiritual
beliefs keep you from having a living will? If they do, ask your clergy or
spiritual advisor to help you know what to do if you can't make medical
decisions for yourself.
- Will you be able to practice religious
rituals before you die? In some religions, rituals are done before or after a
person dies. If you want certain rituals to be done and know who you want to do
them, write them in your advance directive. For safety reasons, some hospitals
may not let you do certain rituals.
- Do you want to include your
beliefs and thoughts about illness, dying, and death?
You may find it hard to answer some of these questions. Here’s
a way to help make things more clear.
Try to picture yourself in
each of the situations listed below. Then think about what you would like to
happen if you couldn't say what you wanted. As you read through each example,
write down any thoughts that come to you.
- What if you had a disease that couldn't be cured?
Would you want to be given antibiotics to get rid of an infection, such as
pneumonia, that might lead to your death if it’s not treated?
if you had a disease that gets worse over time and affects your movement or
memory, such as Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease? Would you want to
be given food and fluids through a tube? If so, is there a time when you would
want to stop this treatment?
- What if you were in pain? Would you
want to be given strong doses of medicine to ease it, even if they make you
groggy and not able to think clearly?
- What if you were in a coma
and there was little chance that you would come out of it? Would you want to be
kept alive by a machine that pumps air into your lungs through a tube if you
can't breathe on your own?