How to Think About Your Values: Advance Care Planning

While a doctor or a lawyer will ask you if you have an advance directive (e.g. living will), the conversation about your advance care wishes should truly start at home.

Completing an advance directive form isn’t about medical treatments or legal rights. It’s about making sure that if you are too sick, the doctors choose the treatments that focus on what is important to you.

For example, some people believe quality of life is more important than how long they live while other people feel that living as long as possible is the only thing that matters.

And people may have different views about what is meant by quality of life. For some, it means being independent and being able to take care of yourself. This person would not be willing to be in a nursing home, having others help them eat or get dressed. Other people might find that okay as long as they can talk to their family and see their grandchildren. 

There are no right or wrong choices. What matters most is that you have taken the time to make choices and explain them to your loved ones.

Advance Care Planning Resources

From our Health Library

Contact Us

For more information, or to talk with someone about advance care planning, contact the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute at:


Download the PDF about advance medical planning (link opens a new window). 

For more information about advance directives, download Pennsylvania Advance Health Care Directive (PDF).​


UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |