Advance directives

What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill or hurt to make those decisions? Whether you're 18 or 80, documenting your wishes with an advance directive today can avoid confusion for your loved ones and healthcare professionals later.

An advance directive is a legal document which allows you to make end-of-life healthcare decisions in advance. There are two types of advance directives: a living will and a power of attorney.

Assistance with your advance directive

If you would like assistance in completing your advance directive, Edward-Elmhurst social workers, palliative care case managers, chaplains and others can help you.

We also offer Wednesday Wishes, a complimentary program held at Edward Hospital’s Naperville campus one Wednesday a month. A member of the palliative care team will meet one-on-one with you to answer questions regarding advance directives and will also:

  • Assist you in completing a Power of Attorney for Healthcare
  • Witness your document
  • Make copies for your file

Registration is required for these one-hour sessions. Register online or call 630-527-6363.

What is a living will?

A living will is the oldest type of healthcare advance directive. It only applies if you have a terminal (incurable or irreversible) condition. A living will may specify that you do not want life-sustaining procedures used if you have a terminal condition and are unable to state your wishes.

What is a healthcare power of attorney?

A healthcare power of attorney lets you choose someone (your “agent”) to make healthcare decisions for you in the future, if you are no longer able to make those decisions for yourself. You may give your agent specific directions about the healthcare you do or do not want. Unlike most living wills, the power of attorney does not require that the signer have a terminal condition.

Why should I have an advance directive?

There may come a time in your life when you need someone else to make medical decisions for you. The best way to prepare for that day is by planning ahead.

Completing an advance directive ensures your wishes are followed if you’re unable to speak for yourself during a crisis or critical illness. It provides your loved ones with a framework for making decisions on your behalf, and protects them from the burden of having to make these hard choices without knowing what you would have chosen for yourself.

What should I consider when completing an advance directive?

There are a number of resources to help you complete your advance directive. The following websites provide helpful information, documents and instructions:

Once you complete your advance directive, make sure your designated agent, loved ones and healthcare providers receive a copy.