Understanding Advance Directives

Advance directives allow you to make decisions about your care in case you ever become unable to speak for yourself. A living will and health care power of attorney are the two most common forms of advance directives.

A living will describes your wishes for medical care. A health care power of attorney names a person who can make medical decisions for you, if you are unable.

These documents allow you to state your choices for health care. You can say “yes” to the treatment you want and “no” to the treatment you do not want.

You should be asked if you have an advance directive:

  • When you enter a Medicare or Medicaid hospital or nursing facility
  • When you receive home health or hospice care from a Medicare or Medicaid provider
  • When you enroll in a Medicare or Medicaid certified HIC/HMO insurance plan

You should give your doctor and your power of attorney (if you have one) a copy of the form. Ask your medical provider for help

For basic questions about advanced directives, download our Understanding Advance Directives flyer. For more information on the state-specific forms and documents, check out CaringInfo, West Virginia Center for End-of-Life, and Aging With Dignity’s websites.