Advanced Directives: A Little Planning Brings a Lot of Peace of Mind


What if you had a serious accident or illness and could not speak for yourself? If you were incapacitated or in a coma, what kind of medical care would you want? Whom would you want to make healthcare decisions for you? These are important questions to consider. Follow these simple steps now to make sure your future health wishes are granted.

Put It in Writing

Advance directives are documents that state your wishes about medical care in case you are not able to make decisions for yourself. They guide your doctors in providing care for you.

Here are three important types of advance directives:

  • Healthcare Proxy. This document lets you appoint someone to make medical care decisions for you in case you cannot. It can be a family member, a friend, or other trusted person.
  • Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST). This document states that you do not want to be resuscitated if you have a heart attack or your breathing stops.
  • Living Will/Personal Directive. This document outlines the type of medical care you want to receive. It gives specific instructions about treatment, such as use of blood transfusions, breathing machines, and tube feedings.

Tell Family Members

Be sure to let family members know your wishes. This will help avoid any confusion and guilt if they have to make medical decisions for you.

How to Get Started

The best place to start is to visit The site has lots of information, including a toolkit and a webinar, to help you decide what type of medical care you might need in the future. You can also learn about advanced directives and how to discuss your wishes with your primary care physician. You do not need a lawyer to fill out the forms. You can update them anytime if you change your mind about the care you would like to receive. Be sure to give a copy to your primary care physician and a trusted family member.

Take these steps now when you are healthy. You will make it much easier for your loved ones to make decisions about your care later on.

Celebrate this life milestone when your forms are complete and given to your doctor and loved ones. This is an important step to plan for your future and your peace of mind.

Listen to the Podcast

We explain the differences between living wills, healthcare proxies, powers of attorney, and DNRs. Learn how to get started developing these documents for yourself or family members. This episode features Emerson's Lee Holbrook, social worker supervisor, and Mary Crow, director of professional and community education at Care Dimensions.

Subscribe to the Health Works Here Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and wherever podcasts can be heard.