Advance Directives: Overview

You have the right to make decisions about your own medical treatment. These decisions become more difficult if, due to illness or a change in mental condition, you are unable to tell your doctor and loved ones what kind of health-care treatments you want. That is why it is important for you to make your wishes known in advance.

What is an advance directive? 

An advance directive lets you indicate who you would want to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. It also lets you say exactly how you wish to be treated if you become seriously ill and cannot speak for yourself. 

Advance directives include a living will and the designation of a health care surrogate.

Family talking in kitchenCompleting an advance directive helps guide conversations with your family, friends and physicians about how you want to be treated if you become seriously ill. In addition, your family members will not have to guess what you would want, because an advance directive makes your wishes clear when you cannot speak for yourself. Everyone age 18 or older is encouraged to prepare an advance directive. You do not need a lawyer to prepare an advance directive.

Your personal wishes

It is important to communicate your wishes to loved ones prior to a significant medical event or end of life care. Sharing your thoughts and concerns about end-of-life with our health care surrogate or loved ones allows them to understand your personal choices. examples of things you may want to think about: 

  • Life-support treatment that you may/may not want such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), major surgery, blood transfusions, dialysis, antibiotics 
  • Your preferences for medication if you are in pain - it may affect your ability to interact with your loved ones 
  • The importance of personal care like massage, nail clipping, shaving, as long as they do not cause pain or discomfort 
  • Specific religious or personal beliefs/practices that you want honored 
  • Where and how you might want to spend your final days - home/ hospital/nursing home? 

Saving Lives Through Organ Donation

Anatomical Gifts/Organ or Tissue Donation

You may wish to consider donating, at death, all or part of your body for transplantation, research or education. An anatomical donation form is a document that expresses your wishes. 

Information about organ and tissue donation is available at the Donate Life Florida website.

If you are interested in donating your body, please call the Anatomical Board to make arrangements. Call 1-800-628-2594 or 352.392.3588 or visit the Anatomical Board website for more information.

To learn more, please be sure to talk further with your health care provider. For more information about Advance Directives or to obtain forms, please speak with your nurse.