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Maryland Health Care Commission

Consumer Guide to Long Term Care

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Advance Directives

Advance Directives are legal documents that lets others, such as family and medical staff, know what your medical preferences are in the event you are unable to communicate for yourself, due to illness or medical emergency. There are two parts to an advance directive, a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. The living will is a document that provides guidance if you are dying or in a permanent state of unconsciousness (i.e., coma) regarding your preferences for end of life care and life-sustaining medical treatment, such as CPR, ventilator treatment, IV feeding and hydration, etc. An advance directive also includes a durable power of attorney for health care, which names a healthcare proxy – someone you have identified to represent you and make medical decisions on your behalf, when you are unable to do so.

Resources for Preparing Your Advance Directive

Advance Directives are legal documents, however you do not need to use a lawyer to complete one. The Office of the Attorney General in Maryland has a website with information about Advance Directives, including living will and advance directive forms to download and complete. Visit the website at the following link:

The National Institute of Aging has a publication Advance Care Planning that contains helpful information to consider when preparing your advanced directive. Another resource to guide you is the Consumer Tool Kit for Advance Care Planning, a publication of the American Bar Association. MyDirectives is a free, secure, web-based system that allows you to document and store your advance directives in a secure database. You may share your advance directive electronically with your health care agent, family members, and providers. Electronic advance directives eliminate the need to find or carry paper documents before going to the hospital or create and re-create the documents every time you enter a facility. You medical treatment preferences are clearly documented in a digital format, which helps ensure your wishes are more accessible in the event of an unexpected critical care situation. If you want to find out more about this resource, use the link that follows:

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