Planning for End-of-Life Care


Regardless of your age or health status, it is important to take the time to learn about healthcare options and make decisions about the care you want for yourself in advance.

Understanding care options and communicating your choices—not in a moment of crisis—is key to ensuring that you will receive the healthcare you want, even if you are unable to speak for yourself. This will make it easier for your family, friends and healthcare providers to advocate for you and your care preferences.

End-of-life care refers broadly to the support and medical care you receive during the time surrounding a serious illness. It is not just about the care received right before your heart stops beating; rather, it is about the care that will support you to live fully if you are dealing with the challenges of a life-limiting or chronic illness for days, weeks and even months prior to death.

The best way to plan for your end-of-life care is with an advance directive. This legal document outlines your wishes for end-of-life care or healthcare preferences. It goes into effect when you indicate it should, and it can be adjusted as your situation changes, whether it’s because of new information or changes in your health.

When planning your end-of-life care, some issues to consider include:
• Your goals of care (e.g., whether to treat an illness or to focus on pain relief/symptom management);
• Where you want to spend your final days;
• What supportive treatments you wish to receive (e.g., dialysis, breathing machines, fluids, antibiotics, etc.)
• Who will make decisions for you should you be unable to make them yourself

To learn more, visit or call 410-871-8000.