Advance Care Planning

Alternative Names

Advance Directives; Power of Attorney for Healthcare; Living Will, MyDirectives

Advance care planning is a process that supports adults of any age or health status in understanding and sharing their values, goals, and preferences for future healthcare. The goal of advance care planning is to ensure that people receive care that is consistent with their personal wishes prior to an illness or accident. This proactive approach significantly reduces stress on both the person and their loved ones and healthcare team.

What's an Advance Directive?

An advance directive allows you to document your preferences for care in the event that you become unable to make health decisions. You also can name a loved one to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to do so. An advance directive is a written document that is signed by you with two witness signatures. Digital advance directives are also available through MyDirectives.com.

Advance directives can reduce:

  • Personal worry
  • Futile, costly, specialized interventions that a patient may not want
  • Overall health care costs
  • Feelings of helplessness and guilt for family
  • Legal concerns for everyone involved

Advanced directives cannot predict what situations may arise in the future, however, you can discuss what matters to you so your loved ones can make decisions that are consistent with your values and preferences.

Creating Your Advance Directive

Planning Guide

Download our Advance Care Planning Guide for step-by-step instructions to create your advance directive.

To begin the process of creating an advance directive, you need to think about your goals, values, and beliefs, and how these may influence your future medical decisions. Speak with your healthcare provider about various treatment options and their risks and benefits.

Next, determine what treatment preferences support what matters to you. Complete your advance directive either in writing or online and share with your healthcare providers, family members, and friends.

Advance directives can be modified anytime as long as you maintain decision making capacity. Review your advance directive from time to time to reflect your current treatment preferences.

Already Have an Advance Directive?

If you have an advance directive, please share this information with a member of your care team. If you would like to fill out an advance directive form after admission, a member of our team can help you. We encourage you to discuss your healthcare goals and wishes with your attending physician.

Federal law requires hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds to provide written information regarding advanced care directives to all patients upon admission.

Advance Care Planning Resources

These additional resources will assist you in your advance care planning.

The Conversation Project

Is the topic of talking about your future healthcare preferences taboo or do you not know how to start the conversation? The Conversation Project offers free Conversation Guides that can help you have ‘the conversation’ with the important people in your life about your – or their – wishes for care through the end of life. Guides are available in English, English Audio, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Vietnamese. All the Guides are available to download and print at home for free.

Maryland Advance Directive

The State of Maryland offers a planning form within the Maryland Advance Directive: Planning for Future Health Care Decisions. This publication also includes a frequently asked questions section (pp. 5-6) that you may also find informative.

MyDirectives

MyDirectives helps you create your own digital advance care plan or upload any advance directive, advance care plan or portable medical order you already have. You can easily share your plan with anyone you choose anytime. Hospitals that link to MyDirectives can access your plan when you are admitted.

Maryland Order for Life-Saving Treatment (MOLST)

The Maryland Order for Life-Saving Treatment (MOLST) form includes medical orders for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and other medical personnel regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-sustaining treatment options for a specific patient. It is valid in all health care facilities and programs throughout Maryland. The MOLST form will be completed by your physician either with you, your loved ones, or based on your advance care plan or advance directive.

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