Glossary of Medical Terms
An advance directive is a personal statement of how medical care choices should be made and who should make them in the event a person is unable to communicate, such as from having a severe injury or illness. A medical power of attorney, which appoints a person (called a health care agent or proxy) to make medical treatment decisions, and a living will are types of advance directives.
Advance directives should be documented and comply with the guidelines established within a person's state of residence. The provisions within an advance directive, such as when to continue or abandon life-support measures, also should be discussed with a health professional, family members, and other potential decision-makers.