Advance Directives and Living Wills

What happens if you become too sick to make decisions about your healthcare and medical treatments?

The State of Florida has a law that makes it possible for you to make decisions about your care ahead of time in written documents. These documents are called Advance Directives.

A Living Will (a type of Advance Directive) is a written document people use to express their wishes in case they become too sick to make healthcare decisions. Without any written instructions from you, your family and physicians must guess what treatment you would want.

Some Living Wills explain exactly what kind of care you want, should you become ill. For example, you can choose whether to accept treatment or to refuse treatment that may keep you alive even though you are very sick and may not get better.

Other Advance Directives are used to choose someone to make healthcare decisions for you (a proxy or surrogate) should you become too sick to make those decisions. Some Advance Directives allow you to do both: state what you want done and choose a surrogate.

Before you fill out an Advance Directive form, you may want to talk to your family, friends, physician, lawyer or spiritual advisor. If you choose to designate a Health Care Surrogate you may want to discuss your thoughts with your surrogate because he or she will be making choices for you if you are unable.

Your Advance Directive goes into effect only if you become unable to make choices or express your wishes. You can change it at any time up until that point.

If You Are Ready to Fill Out an Advance Directive

Our goal at Lakeland Regional Health is to honor your wishes and provide you with the best care possible. If you want to create an Advance Directive, we will provide one for you and will be available to answer any questions you may have.

Lakeland Regional Health provides an Advance Directive – Living Will form that describes three particular situations where treatment and healthcare decisions may need to be made. If a situation you are particularly concerned about is not included, you can make additional comments in the section provided.

If you have any questions about the form, contact your attorney, physician or spiritual leader. Also view our Frequently Asked Questions about Advance Directives page.

After completing an Advance Directive, give a copy to your regular physician, your health care surrogate and to a trusted family member or friend.

 

Resources for Making Healthcare Decisions

www.aarp.org

Find important resources on planning for finances at the end of life, as well as hospice care and advance care planning.
www.agingwithdignity.org

Everything you need to know about the document entitled 5 Wishes, an advance directive tool that helps you plan for end-of-life issues. The document addresses medical, personal, emotional, and spiritual needs. Everything you need to know about the document entitled 5 Wishes, an advance directive tool that helps you plan for end-of-life issues. The document addresses medical, personal, emotional, and spiritual needs.
www.caringinfo.org

Sponsored by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, this resource contains information on topics such as “Life Planning, Dealing with Illness, and Grieving a Loss.” Contained on the site are state- specific Living Wills and Healthcare Powers of Attorney. 
www.practicalbioethics.org

Provides pamphlets and other materials for sale that encourage planning for medical decision-making. “Caring Conversations” helps patients and families through the process of advance care planning.
www.putitinwriting.org  

Sponsored by the American Hospital Association, this site encourages readers to explore their options, decide what is right for them and then put it in writing.
www.abanet.org/aging/toolkit/home.html  

This site provides a toolkit containing a variety of self-help worksheets, suggestions and resources that are user-friendly. These resources help you discover, clarify, and communicate what is important to you in the face of serious illness.

For additional information, you are encouraged to speak to any of the following:

  • Your personal priest, pastor or spiritual leader
  • Your personal attorney or legal advisor
  • LRH Resolution Services at 863.687.1025
  • LRH Pastoral Services at 863.687.1247
  • LRH Palliative Care Services at 863.687.1100, ext. 7617