The first step is to carefully consider what you want or do not want in life-sustaining care. Second, you need to communicate your choices through legal documents.
Advance Directive/Living Will: A legal document that communicates your wishes about lifesaving medical treatments if you have a terminal illness and cannot communicate.
Healthcare Power of Attorney: A type of power of attorney whereby you appoint a trusted person, such as a spouse, adult child, friend, or faith leader, to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so.
Life-support treatments: Medical interventions that do the work of bodily functions such as a breathing machine/ventilator/respirator, feeding tube, dialysis, CPR or IV fluids.
Comfort care: Care provided near the end-of-life that is given to people who have stopped treatment to cure or control disease. Comfort care includes physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support for patients and families.
Do-Not-Resuscitate order (DNR): A do-not-resuscitate order allows for a natural death. It is a written or verbal medical order indicating that a person does not want CPR should their heart stop.
POLST (Providers Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment): Summarizes the wishes of an individual regarding life-sustaining treatment and translates the wishes of an individual into actual medical orders. The attending physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant should complete the document with the patient and must sign the form.