The short answer is that a living will is a type of advance directive, while “advance directive” is a broad term used to describe any legal document that addresses your future health care. Living wills are advance directives, but not all advance directives are living wills. An advance directive is a set of instructions that describe your wishes for health care. It is also used when serious medical situations occur and you are unable to communicate your wishes.
However, unlike the living will, an advance directive is not limited to terminal illness. It may also include medical events such as dementia, stroke, or coma. Turns out the answer is “not quite. Both share the same ultimate goal, which is to respond to your wishes regarding your future medical care.
However, a living will is a type of advance directive, a term used to describe a broader category. Advance directives are any legal document that addresses health care in any form or form. This includes a living will, a medical POA (or health care power of attorney), and even a mental health directive. An advance directive is a legal document that details the patient's conditions on their terms of care for terminal services.
It may not even be a formal document; in some cases, verbal instructions to a health care provider may have the legal force of an advance directive. However, another type of advance directive, a medical power of attorney, puts these decisions in the hands of another person. In other words, advance directives allow you to set your preferences for future medical treatment. An advance directive is any type of legal document that addresses your wishes about your future health care.
A living will is a type of advance directive, and both can be useful when a medical problem prevents you from expressing your wishes about medical treatment. Appreciating the differences between advance directives and living wills can be difficult for several reasons. Review your advance directives with your doctor and health care agent to make sure you have filled out the forms correctly. You don't need to have an advance directive or living will to have no-resuscitation (ONR) and no-intubate (DNI) orders.
Because a living will is only one type of advance directive, you are not limited to using only this document. If all you need is a Do Not Resuscitation (DNR) and Do Not Intubate (DNI) order, you don't need an advance directive. A do not resuscitate order or DNR means that if you stop breathing or your heart stops, nothing will be done to try to keep you alive. If you want to be absolutely sure that your wishes are fulfilled, an advance directive² may be your best option.
You should discuss the changes with your primary care physician and ensure that a new directive replaces an old directive in your medical record. A POLST also indicates what advance directives you have created and who acts as your health care agent. Keep the originals of your directive in an accessible place and give copies to your doctors, health care proxies, and attorney.