—Advance Directive: a written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, often including a living will, made to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor.

—Only %25 of Americans report having an advance directive such as a living will.

Advance Care Planning means preparing for your future medical care. In Colorado, no one is automatically authorized to make healthcare decisions for another adult — not spouses, adult children, other family members, nor physicians. This mean, once a person turns 18, it is critical to put a plan in place and prepare legal documents to cover emergency medical events.

The goal with ACP is to honor your wishes and leave a plan for your loved ones to follow, as to not leave them with unnecessary burden and grief.

The medical directive is made up of two parts

  1. Medical Power of Attorney
    1. Document who makes medical decisions about your healthcare.
    2. Authorized to speak ONLY if you can’t.
    3. Can be a spouse or anyone 18 and over.
    4. Doesn’t require notary or witness. *Encouraged*
  2. Living Will
    1. States what you want and do not want for medical treatments at the end of life.
    2. Living wills depend on vague, confusing and deceptive terminology.  Definitions are open to broad interpretation – or misinterpretation.
    3. Studies show that the Living will document is not effective by itself.

All medical directives are free and online and through the Letting Go With Dignity organization.

Tips on Starting the Conversation

Completing Your Advance Directives

Directives that Involve Your Doctor (you can’t fill out alone):

—A CPR Directive: (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)  allows you to refuse in advance any attempt to resuscitate you by chest compressions, medications, defibrillation (electric shock), or intubation (artificial breathing machine) if your heart or breathing malfunctions or stops. Must be present/visible in order for EMS to intercede.

Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST): MOST is a tool and process for documenting treatment preferences for Chronically ill- frail elderly. It is not intended for healthy older adults who want healthcare intervention and treatment. The standardized form can be easily and quickly understood by patients, healthcare providers, and emergency personnel.

MOST “travels” with the patient and must be honored in any setting: hospital, clinic, day surgery, long-term care facility, ALR, hospice, or at home. The original is brightly colored for easy identification, but photocopies, faxes, and electronic scans are also valid.