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Advance Care Planning: Practical Advice

What is an Advance Directive? All adults can benefit from thinking about what their healthcare choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves.

These decisions can be written down in an advance directive so that others know what they are. Advance directives come in two main forms:

  • A “healthcare power of attorney” documents the person you select to be your voice for our healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • A “living will” documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.


Living wills only kick in under limited circumstances defined by state law – usually if you are terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or in the end-stage of a fatal illness. There are other circumstances under which an advance directive is important including if you are temporarily unconscious, if you have dementia but are not terminally ill. That’s one reason health care proxies are important.

AARP South Carolina recently held an advance directives education seminar in Greenville. A qualified panel of experts included Greenville County Probate Judge Deborah Faulkner, Dr. Rick Foster of the South Carolina Hospital Association, and Attorney Elizabeth “Libba” Patterson, who was instrumental in writing South Carolina’s advance directive law.

The program was video-taped and clips from each of the presentations, along with the links to the materials and other information including a link to South Carolina Probate Courts can be found online.

You can download and print these materials for your use. Also, you may obtain printed copies of the materials by calling AARP South Carolina at 1-866-389-5655.

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