Living Wills

Living Will and pre-planning websites–Colorado Hospital Association (The below excerpt is taken from their booklet)

In Colorado, there are three main types of advance directive: the Medical Durable Power of Attorney, the Living Will, and the CPR Directive.  (5 Wishes covers the Medical Durable Power of Attorney and the Living Will.  You need a separate CPR Directive.)

Preparing and signing (or executing) an advance directive does not take away your right to decide what you want, if you are able to do so, or to provide input to decisions about your care at any time. You may change your mind at any time about anything you have written in an advance directive.

It’s very important to review your advance directives every few years, to make sure your choices are still valid and that other information, such as contact information, is up to date.

Keep your advance directives in a place that is easy to get to—not in a safe deposit box. Give copies of your directives to family members and friends who may be involved in your medical care.

Take copies of your advance directives with you when you are checking in to a healthcare facility for any outpatient or inpatient procedure. Make sure your primary physician and any healthcare professional providing treatment have copies of your directives and know your wishes.

If you complete a CPR directive be sure it is kept in a visible and handy place in your home so that it can be given quickly to any emergency medical personnel. (on the refrigerator is a place they generally look.)




Living wills and advance directives are just different names for the same thing  Every state has their own.

Everybody knows they’re going to die, but it can be scary to think about how. Without specific instructions, family members may have to decide whether you would want to be kept alive artificially, what level of disability you’d be willing to live with and how to let you die if you had no hope of recovery. Advance directives are as much for the living as for the dying.

If family members aren’t available, doctors are generally empowered to discontinue medical care they deem futile. But we know that rarely happens, largely for legal reasons. And of course, sometimes there are family members that want to keep terminal patients connected to life support and hope for a miracle.

Studies have found that most people would not want life-sustaining care if they were in an irreversible coma. Conversely, some patients want to be kept alive at all costs, and some religions require it. “Oftentimes, people think [advance directives] are just about ending life. But you can use them to request every intervention possible.” That’s why you need to have your wishes be known.

Aging With Dignity also puts out a document in booklet form called “Five Wishes.”  It is written in less legalistic jargon, and does meet the legal requirements in 45 states, including CO. It’s available from for $5 a copy.

Their booklet called “Next Steps” is also excellent.  It lists many possible ways to begin the conversation with loved ones, such as mentioning your own end-of-life preferences, or discussing the forms as a family group, how to talk to your doctor about it, how to be with someone at their bedside, and some more detailed info about filling out the 5 wishes document.

The 5 wishes:  #1 choose your health care agents; #2 what medical treatment you do/do not want (similar to directives from state); #3 how you want to be kept comfortable; #4 how you want people to treat you (for example if you want people praying by your bedside or not); #5 what you want your loved ones to know.  (a bit like an ethical will…)

Advance directives do not have to be filed officially. They go into effect automatically as soon as they are signed and witnessed; It’s best to have them notarized but it is not required.  It is important to give your family members and doctors copies, or at least instructions on how to access them.  And of course your health care agents, ie the ones you have given the power to make decisions for you need to have copies.

So how do you get the ball rolling on this?   The best time to begin considering advance directives is long before a health-care crisis looms. Having a doctor involved can be useful for answering medical questions. In some circumstances Medicare reimburses doctors for such discussions.

Older people are often less reticent about discussing death than younger people suspect. When you’re 80 years old, it’s not like you haven’t thought about it, but it may be that nobody has ever asked you!

Everybody 18 and older should think of what they would want in case of an emergency. Let your family know, “Here’s what I value. Here’s what’s important to me.”