Making Important Health Care Decisions

March 27, 2017

Couple go over paperwork in front of a computer.What if you become severely ill? It’s difficult to talk about, but it’s important that your spouse, family, or other loved ones are aware of your wishes regarding what kind of health care you want if you cannot make your own decisions.
In developing your wishes, called an advanced care plan, you should:

  • Understand your options by talking with your doctor.
  • Discuss your decisions with your loved ones.
  • Put your plans in writing; this becomes your health care advance directive.

Documents that can help communicate your health care decisions include:

  • Advanced directive, also called a health care proxy: designates the person who will be your voice if you cannot make health care decisions for yourself.
  • Living will: designates what kind of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of your life.
  • Do not resuscitate order: instructs medical personnel not to use CPR or ventilation if you are not breathing or have no pulse after suffering cardiac or respiratory arrest.
  • Health care power of attorney: designates someone who understands your wishes and can communicate them to your doctor, hospital, and family members.

Photo: Monkey Business Images/Thinkstock

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD)

Visit for tools, resources, activities, and other free information on advanced care planning. NHDD is celebrated in 2017 from April 16–22.