Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today



Making Your Wishes Known

Finding Your Way: Talking About End-of-Life Treatment Decisions

Advance Directives - One way to communicate with your loved ones and health care providers

Advance directives based on where you live

There are some differences in advance directives based on the state where you live. Be sure to check with your doctor or a person familiar with these issues as they apply to your state.

Types of advance directives worth considering include:

  • A living will, which is a formal legal document, authorized by state laws, that describes the kinds of medical treatments you want or do not want if you become incapacitated. It can be as specific or general as you wish.
  • A durable power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy, which is a document that lets you designate a person to make treatment decisions for you if you cannot make those decisions. You’ll want to alert your proxy that you have given him or her this responsibility and talk about your wishes.
  • A do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, which is a document that directs what measures should or should not be taken on your behalf in events such as cardiac or respiratory arrest. Typically, a DNR order is directed to emergency medical services or other first-responders.


Talking about our concerns and taking steps to address them remains solid advice throughout life, even as we anticipate its end.

I’m Dr. Carolyn Clancy and that’s my advice on how to navigate the health care system.

Carolyn M. Clancy, a general internist and researcher, is an expert in engaging consumers in their health care. She is the director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Resource Center

Find tools, work sheets and tips on how to plan, prepare and succeed as a caregiver. Select a Caregiving Resource Center topic from the drop-down menu below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Reading eyeglasses eyemed 6 membership benefit health

Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get free basic lenses at

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx discount card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.