PREPARING FOR DIFFICULT DECISIONS

Take these steps to help communicate your wishes.

There are two forms you and your doctor can fill out so you and your family can be more prepared for difficult decisions: 

  • Advance Directive
  • Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).  

Legacy also offers help with ethical issues and difficult questions. 

Advance Directive

An Advance Directive is a form that allows you to make your health care wishes known in advance – in case you are unable to speak for yourself. In Washington, this form is called Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive.

It allows you to: 

  • Appoint a person to speak for you 
  • Give instructions for health care 

 

Why would I need an Advance Directive?

If you are 18 or older, you should consider having an advance directive. In the event of an injury or illness, you may not be able to speak for yourself. The Advance Directive, prepared before something happens, speaks for you.

Where can I learn more about Advance Directive?

Just as important as the Advance Directive Form are the conversations you have with trusted others about your health care wishes.  To learn more about how to have these conversations and prepare for completing an Advance Directive, The Conversation Project - Have You Had The Conversation? has tools and resources to support you.

Where can I get an Advance Directive (Oregon) or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive (Washington) form?

You do not need to have a lawyer to complete an Advance Directive form. Many health care facilities have the forms available.

Oregon: State of Oregon Advance Directive Form
Washington:  WSMA Advance-Directive Form

What do I do next with my Advance Directive? 

Make copies and share it with your health care provider, family members, close friends, spiritual adviser and/or lawyer.

Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) are medical orders to guide decisions about life sustaining treatment that reflects your preferences about the treatments you want or do not want to receive in medical emergency. 
 
The orders address decisions about: 

  • Resuscitation or CPR 
  • The level of medical treatment –– whether to start life support such as a breathing machine 

While Advance Directives are meant for all patients 18 years or older, POLST is meant for those who are seriously ill or frail. Talk to your healthcare provider about the POLST form.  

For more information, see the POLST websites for Oregon and Washington