The type of care you receive at the end of life depends on how well you plan ahead. To do that, you need to create an advance directive—a legal document that states what kind of care you want if, for example, you’re in a coma and can’t make decisions for yourself. Your healthcare provider will help you sort through the options:
- A living will is an advance directive that describes the kind of life-sustaining treatments you would want should you become seriously or terminally ill.
- A healthcare power of attorney is an advance directive in which you choose someone, such as your spouse, a close friend or a relative, to make healthcare decisions for you if you become unable to do so.
- A do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is a type of advance directive that states you do not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation if your heart stops or you stop breathing. You can change or cancel an advance directive at any time as long as you’re competent and able to do so.