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Advance Directives

An advance directive spells out a person's wishes and instructions for medical care when the person is not able to voice his or her decisions. This document often names a trusted person as a proxy, who is legally allowed to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient.

Examples of advance directives include:

  • Living wills
  • Resuscitation refusal orders
  • Durable powers of attorney

Preparing an advance directive gives peace of mind — both to patients and to their loved ones. By making important decisions ahead of time, you can ensure that your wishes will be carried out.

By specifying your decisions and appointing a trusted individual as your proxy, you can ease the feelings of helplessness and uncertainty that may affect the people whom you trust with your care.

The UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute offers expert guidance to patients and families who seek the peace of mind an advance directive can provide. We also can provide psychological support and guidance to patients and family members who are unsure how to begin a conversation about advance directives.

Learn more about advance care planning (PDF).

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