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End-of-Life Decision Making (cont.)


What to Do With Your Advance Directive

If you already have an advance directive, but you decide that you want it to say something different, then change it.

Write a new one, give copies to your family, your friends, your doctor, and the hospital you're most likely to use. Tell them to throw out the old one.

Having advance directives gives the family your message when you are no longer able to express the message. It gives them the license to say to the doctor, "Do everything you can to keep my father comfortable, but don't prolong his life artificially with tube feedings and antibiotics."

For More Information

  • Choice in Dying or Partnership for Caring, Inc., is a nonprofit organization that provides advance directives, counsels patients and families, trains professionals, advocates for improved laws, and offers a range of publications and services.
  • Read about advance directives in the Patient Education Forum of the American Geriatrics Society.
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians discusses advance directives and do not resuscitate orders.
  • Last Acts is a national coalition to improve care and caring at the end of life.
  • Patient Advanced Educational Resource, also known as PAER, publishes a family guide to advance directives and code status designations entitled What's the Patient's Code Status?
  • Five Wishes is a document you can order that helps you think about, and describe for your family, how you'd like your medical priorities to be addressed when you are no longer able to speak for yourself.

Medically reviewed by Joseph Palermo, DO; American Osteopathic Board Certified Internal Medicine


American Academy of Physician Assistants. End-of-Life Decision Making. End-of-Life Decision Making.

Baggs JG, Schmitt MH. End-of-life decisions in adult intensive care: current research base 158 and directions for the future. Nurs Outlook. Jul-Aug 2000;48(4):158-64.

Berger AS. When Life Ends: Legal Overviews. Greenwood Publishing Group; 1995:208.

Braun KL, Pietsch JH, Blanchette PL. Cultural Issues in End-of-Life Decision Making. Sage Publications; 1999:356.

Family Caregiver Alliance. End-of-Life Decision-Making. End-of-Life Decision-Making.

Limerick M. Communicating with surrogate decision-makers in end-of-life situations: substitutive descriptive language for the healthcare provider. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. Nov-Dec 2002;19(6):376-80.

Steinberg MD, Youngner SJ. End-of-Life Decisions: A Psychosocial Perspective. American Psychiatric Press. 1998:322.

Werth JL, Gordon JR, Johnson RR. Psychosocial issues near the end of life. Aging Ment Health. Nov 2002;6(4):402-12.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/20/2016

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