Take Charge of your Health with Advance Directives

June 7, 2021 Ailish Mackey, Social Work Intern

Planning for the future looks different for everyone, especially for someone who has cancer. One planning tool that is useful for anyone regardless of their health status is an advance directive. Life is unpredictable and because of that Swedish believes everyone 18 and older should have an advance directive. Advance directives allow you to decide what kind of medical treatment you want and who can make decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. Having an advance directive can also ease some of the stress on your family and loved ones if they are faced with making critical decisions about your care. When creating your advance directive, you can be as simple or detailed as you wish and you have the ability to change your advance directive at any time.  There are several aspects that go into an advance directive: choosing your health care representative, their authorities, and choosing your health care choices.


Things to consider when choosing a health care representative:

  • Someone who is 18 years or older
  • Someone who knows you well and can make difficult decisions based on what you would want
  • Someone who is willing to take on this responsibility
  • Someone who will communicate you healthcare choices with your health care providers


Responsibilities of a health care representative:

  • Decide where you will receive care
  • Select or dismiss health care providers
  • Make decisions regarding various life-support treatments such as:
    • CPR
    • Ventilator
    • Dialysis
    • Feeding tube
    • Blood transfusions
    • End of life care


Your health choices

Advance directives gives you the power to take your health care into your own hands. Some things to consider when making an advance directive:

  • Do you want the use of equipment such as dialysis machines (kidneys) or a ventilator?
  • Do you want a feeding tube to provide fluid or food if you cannot eat/drink?
  • Do you want treatment for pain or nausea even if you cannot make other decisions?
  • Do you want to donate organs or other body tissue?

Before your advance directive can be used, it must be signed. It requires two witnesses to sign the form or notarized by a notary public. It is important to note that the witnesses must be 18 or older and witness you sign the form. Your witness cannot be your healthcare representative or doctor, be related to you in anyway, benefit financially after you die, or work at the place where you live. Once you have completed this you can submit a copy of your completed advance directive to your health care providers.



Swedish provides an advance directive brochure which includes printable documents to assign your healthcare representative and make your healthcare choices. For more information or to fill out your own advance directive visit, talk to your care team or visits https://www.swedish.org/patient-visitor-info/patient-information/preparing-for-your-hospital-stay/advance-directives


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