Talking with Your Doctor

In Case of a Serious Illness

Advance Directives

You may have some concerns or wishes about your care if you become seriously ill. If you have questions about what choices you have, ask your doctor. You can record your decisions about your care in documents that are called "advance directives." Advance directives are directions you leave for your doctor, family, and friends about how to care for your health if you become very ill.

Advance directives include a living will and a healthcare proxy.

Starting the Conversation

One way to begin talking to your doctor about advance directives is to say, "I am worried about what would happen in the hospital if I were very sick and not likely to get better. Can you tell me what generally happens in that case?"

In general, the best time to talk with your doctor about these issues is when you are still relatively healthy. If you have to stay in the hospital or a nursing home, a nurse or other staff member may ask if you have any advance directives.