The final stages of a terminal illness can be an emotionally charged time for patients and their loved ones. Hospice care is a program designed for those who have a terminal illness with six months or less to live. Rather than trying to cure a disease, hospice aims to ease the physical, emotional and spiritual pain of terminally ill patients and promote quality of life.

Families that are facing end-of-life decisions are not always ready or willing to do so. However, advance hospice care planning can ensure that end-of-life care wishes are honored as well as minimize the burden of difficult decision making for surviving loved ones.

Make your wishes known

Advance directives are legal documents that ensure end-of-life care wishes are honored if you were unable to communicate them for yourself. Completing advance directives provides you reassurance knowing that your wishes will be carried out by the people you choose.

The following are four advanced directives for healthcare in New York:

  • A Healthcare Proxy lets you name someone to act as your agent for health care decisions when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
  • A Living Will lists the types of healthcare you would or would not want to receive when you cannot make decisions for yourself.
  • A Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) tells health care providers and emergency workers not to revive a patient if their heart or breathing stops.
  • Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatments (MOLST) allows you to clarify your wishes about life-sustaining treatments you would or would not want to receive.

With advance hospice care planning, if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate, the established healthcare directives ensure that the type of care you want to receive is carried out with dignity and respect.