Advance directives

If you become so sick that you cannot speak for yourself, it's important to have your decisions about your health care written down in a legal document. You have the right to make these choices known to your doctor or other health care provider through an advance directive. An advance directive is only used when you cannot decide and speak for yourself, and you cannot tell the doctor what you want. An example would be if you were in a coma.

There are two kinds of advance directives in Pennsylvania:

Living will

A living will is a written record of how you wish your health care to be handled if you are no longer able to decide and speak for yourself. This document should say what type of treatments you would or would not want to have.

Durable health care power of attorney

This is a legal document that gives the name of the person who can make decisions, including treatment decisions, in case you cannot make them for yourself. This person does not have to be a lawyer.

To make sure your wishes are met, you should write an advance directive and give a copy to your PCP as well as to family members. For more information on advance directives go to, and follow this path through the site.

There you will find helpful information about advance directives. You can also call the Long Term Living Helpline at 1-866-286-3636 for more information. Or talk with your doctor.