Understanding treatment choices, values and wishes

To plan for healthcare decisions, individuals in hospice should be able to understand their treatment options and be able to express their values and wishes.

Legal documents known as advance directives help ensure that one’s end-of-life choices will be honored.

Legal Documents

The following list includes legal documents relevant to end-of-life decision making and care. Some of these documents will require legal counsel.

Medical Durable Power of Attorney(MDPOA)

A signed document that gives authority to an adult at least 18 years of age allowing him or her to make necessary medical and health care decisions should you become incapacitated. This document does not need to be notarized or witnessed, and it does not need to be completed by an attorney.

Colorado Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Directive

A document stating that emergency health care personnel or others may not perform CPR on you. This document is available from a health care provider and must be signed by both you and your doctor.

Five Wishes

An advance directive document that addresses and documents your personal, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as your medical wishes. It also allows you to choose the person you want to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to make them yourself (In lieu of the MDPOA document).

Five Wishes encourages you to talk with your family, friends and doctor and tell them exactly how you wish to be treated if you become seriously ill. This directive also can be very helpful for family members since they no longer will be required to make difficult choices and determine your wishes about your health care without sufficient information.

Proxy Decision Maker

The individual appointed to make health care decisions when a MDPOA has not been identified. The appointment is made by mutual agreement (consensus) of family members and interested persons.

Power of Attorney (POA)

A notarized document that assigns authority to an adult at least 18 years of age allowing her or him to make decisions regarding your money or property.This document ceases to be in effect at the time of death.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

A notarized document stating that the designated POA can continue his or her authority to make decisions regarding your money or property even if you become incapacitated, disabled or incompetent. This document ceases to be in effect at the time of death. Please note that the Social Security Administration will require you to complete one of its forms as well.

A statement to this effect must be included in thePOA document: “The power of attorney will continue to be in effect even if I become disabled, incapacitated or incompetent.”

Living Will

A document signed by a person that instructs his or her doctor regarding the use of artificial life support measures if the person becomes terminally ill and is unable to make medical decisions. In Colorado, Living Wills may also be used to stop tube feeding and other forms of artificial nourishment but only if the Living Will clearly indicates this instruction and the person has a terminal illness. If the patient is able to swallow food and/or fluids, the Living Will won’t prevent the patient from being fed.

The Living Will must be signed by two witnesses but does not need to be notarized. Neither witness can be a patient of The Denver Hospice, any person associated with The Denver Hospice, any physician, employee of the person’s primary physician, or persons who may inherit any of the patient’s money or property.

Living Will forms and other information regarding Living Wills can often be obtained through doctors, lawyers, health care facilities other health organizations or an office supply store.