Skip to main content

Advance directives and healthcare decision-making

Helping you plan for your future healthcare

We plan ahead for many things so they go smoothly. When it comes to your future healthcare, advance directives help you do just that — plan for the future. Advance directives are legally enforceable documents that specify your future healthcare plans. This advance planning gives you and your loved ones peace of mind, knowing you’ll receive the care you prioritize.

What is an advance directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that provides guidance to your healthcare team and loved ones on the types of care you want or don’t want to receive. Advance directives are also used to appoint someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you ever can’t communicate your wishes yourself.

You can create an advance directive at any time.

With advance directives, you can:

  • Document your priorities and preferences for medical care
  • Designate your healthcare preferences in advance so your loved ones don’t have to make difficult decisions on your behalf
  • Designate someone to make decisions for you if you become unable to
  • Experience peace of mind and a sense of control over some of life’s most important decisions

Eldery patient awaiting appointment with primary care provider.

Types of advance directives in Pennsylvania

There are two main types of advance directives in Pennsylvania. No matter what type of advance directive you’d like to create, our team is here to help you get started:
Durable healthcare power of attorney (POA)

This document* names someone you trust who can help make decisions about your care if you’re unable. You may also choose to add specific guidance about your healthcare priorities.

*Advance directives, such as living wills, appointing a healthcare proxy or power of attorney, are written documents that tell others what your personal, spiritual, medical and legal wishes are should you become seriously ill, or are unable to make decisions on your health. This could be when you are undergoing surgery, have an accident that leaves you temporarily incapacitated or are considering end-of-life care. Having an advance directive lets your medical team and caregiver know exactly what you want when you are seriously ill. It also allows you to appoint another individual to make decisions about your healthcare if you are unable to make them for yourself. 
Geisinger encourages patients to have an advance directive in their electronic medical record. These documents, which are written and signed while you are still fully able to express and articulate your wishes, allow you to plan your care if you are temporarily or permanently unable to make decisions. 

The form contained in this link is not intended to constitute legal advice, rather, the information and materials are available for general informational purposes only. Individuals should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.
Living will

This legal document* outlines the types of care and treatment you do and don’t want, such as resuscitation or the use of a feeding tube if you’re either permanently unconscious or in an end-state condition as determined by your physician. Some documents may allow you to designate someone to make treatment decisions on your behalf

*Advance directives, such as living wills, appointing a healthcare proxy or power of attorney, are written documents that tell others what your personal, spiritual, medical and legal wishes are should you become seriously ill, or are unable to make decisions on your health. This could be when you are undergoing surgery, have an accident that leaves you temporarily incapacitated or are considering end-of-life care. Having an advance directive lets your medical team and caregiver know exactly what you want when you are seriously ill. It also allows you to appoint another individual to make decisions about your healthcare if you are unable to make them for yourself.

Geisinger encourages patients to have an advance directive in their electronic medical record. These documents, which are written and signed while you are still fully able to express and articulate your wishes, allow you to plan your care if you are temporarily or permanently unable to make decisions.

The form contained in this link is not intended to constitute legal advice, rather, the information and materials are available for general informational purposes only. Individuals should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

The Pennsylvania Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is another document that can communicate your priorities. 
POLST

This is a medical order documenting your specific end-of-life healthcare choices. It’s signed by your healthcare provider, and you can carry it with you so other healthcare providers or emergency responders know your preferences.
Interested in discussing advance care planning? Fill out the form below and a member of our team will be in touch soon.
Call us at 570-214-2497 to learn more about advance health care directives and planning.
Call us