Advance Directives

No one likes to think about being sick or injured, but planning ahead can help prevent added stress and confusion if you get very ill.

That is why it is a good idea to make an advance directive. An advance directive is a legal document in which you state instructions about how you want to be cared for during the end stages of your life. It is sometimes called a living will. This document can help your family and doctors know how to treat you if you become too sick to tell them.

There are three kinds of advance directives in New Jersey:

  • A proxy directive means you can name a person (18 years old or older) to make health care decisions when you no longer can.

  • An instruction directive states your desires/instructions for care.

  • A combined directive names a person and gives instructions for care.

Some things you may want to put in your advance directive are instructions about:

  • What type of treatment or procedures to perform and for how long. This can include breathing machines, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), surgery and much more.

  • Your wishes for feeding and fluid intake

  • Who – if anyone – can make decisions about your care

  • If you would like to donate your organs if you pass away

Now, while you are healthy, is the time to think about an advance directive. Your doctor can help you make one. Talk to him or her about your care options and what to include in the document.

You can also get more information from your County Board of Social Services or on the Internet. The State of New Jersey has forms and information on their website at