Advance care planning is the thoughtful conversation and instruction aimed at directing future health care decisions.

An advance directive is usually a written document that may give instruction to your family, your health care representative and healthcare professionals regarding your wishes about your medical care if you become seriously ill and are unable to speak for yourself. Five Wishes is an example of an advance directive.

Advance care planning is a process during which you think about future health care decisions while advance directives are written documents.

Anyone over the age of 18 should consider their advance care plan decisions and putting together advance directives.

This is also sometimes called medical power of attorney. It is a document that appoints a representative to make decisions about your medical care if you are unable to make decisions yourself.

None of us know what may happen to us medically. Advance directives help empower individual choice and help assist family and friends to make those choices based on your wishes and values. They may also outline interventions that you may or may not want when faced with a health crisis.

Advance Directives help with:

  • Empowering individual choice
  • Assisting family and friends in the process of honoring your wishes and values
  • Outlining interventions that you may or may not want.
  • Informing healthcare personnel of your wishes

POLST is a medical order signed by your provider that helps translate your values and wishes into orders when you have a serious illness and/or life limiting condition. It is not an advance directive.

Everyone should have an advance directive, no matter the condition of your health. It is not a medical order. The POLST is a physician order and reserved for someone with a serious illness and/or life limiting condition.

The POLST delineates specific treatment that a provider may order. This includes an order whether or not to do CPR, how aggressive you want treatment to be and statements about antibiotics and feeding tubes.

Not everyone should have a POLST. The POLST form is voluntary and specifically geared toward those patients with serious illness and/or life limiting condition.

The POLST form is transferable among settings so that if you change where you live or are transported to a hospital, the POLST orders will also go with you and be part of your medical orders.

Yes, a medical provider must sign the form in order for it to become a medical order. It also should be signed by yourself or your designated decision maker.

You may get this from your medical provider or from the National POLST website.

It is important that you fill out this form with someone who understands the POLST. In addition, it is important for you to have this discussion with your medical provider so that they are aware of the document and can appropriately signed it.