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End of Life Choices

You have the right (in the U.S.):

  • To be fully informed and involved in decisions about your medical care, including end of
    life care
  • To refuse or withdraw unwanted medical treatment, including food and fluids. This may
    be difficult to do if you are in an institution, as they are required to offer you food; but they may not force you to eat.
  • To designate a proxy to make your medical decisions if you cannot
  • To have your advance directives followed
  • To end your own life without assistance and to have someone present; to use
    services of the Final Exit Network
  • To be as pain free as possible including receiving palliative sedation
  • To move to a state that permits physician or medical aid in dying; to use Dignitas or Life
    Circle in Switzerland
  • To change doctors

Write down and discuss these options with loved ones and caregivers:

  • Your medical and long-term care insurance
  • Your assets and where to find them
  • Whom you designate to speak for you (and alternates) for health care – and finances
  • Treatments you want under what circumstances including CPR, food and fluids
  • What you want done with your body; what kind of service you want


  • Advance Directive Designates They are state-specific. Revise periodically.
    EMT’s cannot honor advance directives.
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order (must be signed by a doctor). Useful to avoid unwanted resuscitation. Only applies when a person does not have a pulse, is not breathing and is unresponsive. To order this form, contact your local medical association. Use in conjunction with medical ID jewelry from a state-approved vendor.
  • POLST (Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) (must be signed by approved medical personnel) An order from your doctor stating your end of life wishes. Intended to be used for those with serious illness or at the end of their life. In practice, many people have POLSTs when those conditions are not met. State by state POLST status.
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