Making health decisions is part of life. These decisions can have a big effect on your health and happiness. Some decisions may affect how good your health care is. Others may affect how much it costs. Most people feel better about their health care when they take part in these decisions. Making your wishes known ahead of time is especially important if you have a terminal illness. There may come a time when you can’t speak for yourself. If that happens, your doctor and your family will know what kind of care you want.
• Stop treatment that prolongs your life. Instead, receive only treatment that focuses on your comfort and quality of life.
• Don’t stop treatment that prolongs your life. Key points in making your decision
• If there is a good chance that your illness can be cured or managed, your doctor may advise you to first try available treatments. If these don’t work, then you might think about stopping treatment.
• If you stop treatment, you will still receive care that focuses on pain relief, comfort, and the quality of your life. This is called hospice care.
• A decision to stop treatment that keeps you alive doesn’t have to be permanent. You can always change your mind if your health starts to improve.
• Even though treatment focuses on helping you live longer, it may cause side effects that can greatly affect your quality of life and your ability to spend time with your family and friends.
• If you still have personal goals that you want to pursue, you may want treatment that keeps you alive long enough to achieve them. Think about the facts and about what matters most to you. To help with your decision, take this information to your doctor and talk with him or her about your thoughts and feelings. Ask for more information if needed.