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.
For more information, or to talk with someone about advance care planning, contact the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute at:
For more information about advance directives, download Pennsylvania Advance Health Care Directive (PDF).