Harvard Health Letter

Making decisions about your future medical care

Getting a living will, health care proxy, or other advance directive now will give you more power over your treatment later.


Talking to you loved ones about your wishes for future medical care is key to ensuring you choices are respected.
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You've probably heard of a living will, a legal document that allows you to specify the kind of medical care you'd like at the end of life. But who'll make sure those wishes are carried out? And what if you need someone to make your health care decisions long before life's end?

"The most important thing you can do is speak to your loved ones about what you want in the event that you're unable to make decisions about your care," says Dr. Justin Sanders, an attending physician in palliative care at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. You can also back up those conversations in writing in several ways

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