Everyone has the right to make personal decisions about health care. Doctors ask whether you will accept a treatment by discussing the risks and benefits and working with you to decide. But what if you can no longer make you own decisions? Anyone can wind up hurt or sick and unable to make decisions about medical treatments.

An advance directive speaks for you if you are unable to and helps make sure your religious and personal beliefs will be respected. It is a useful legal document for an adult of any age to plan for future health care needs. While no one is required to have an advance directive, it is smart to think ahead and plan now. If you don't have an advance directive and later you can't speak for yourself, then usually your next of kin will make health care decisions for you. But even if you want your next of kin to make decisions for you, an advance directive can make things easier for your loved ones by helping to prevent misunderstandings or arguments about your care.

More Americans Discussing - and Planning - End-of-Life Treatment
42% of Americans have had a friend or relative suffer from a terminal illness or coma in the last five years and for a majority of these people and 23% of the general public, the issue of withholding life sustaining treatment came up.

An overwhelming majority of the public supports laws that give patients the right to decide whether they want to be kept alive through medical treatment.

By more than eight-to-one (84%-10%), the public approves of laws that let terminally ill patients make decision about whether to be kept alive through medical treatment.

One of the most striking changes between 1990 and 2005 is the growth in the number of people who say they have a living will - up 17 points, from 12% in 1990 to 29% now.


Delaware Decisions is devoted to educating the community about advance care planning. We urge people to think about their options, discuss their wishes with family and friends, and put their choices in writing. This web site is designed to assist the Delaware community in accomplishing these important tasks.

This site was developed by the Delaware Academy of Medicine and the Widener University School of Law Health Law Institute.

Relevance to You

Less than 30 percent of Americans have expressed their thoughts in writing about how they wish to be cared for at the end of life. Most people avoid the subject. We want to encourage discussion so individuals can make reasoned choices in advance, avoiding unwanted suffering at the end of life and easing the stress on them and their families.

For More Information

• Talk with your physician or other healhcare professional

• Talk with your lawer

• Ask your religious advisor

• Contact:

DSAAPD is the state agency with primary responsibility over advance directives. Contact them at
1-800-223-9074 or at DSAAPDinfo@state.de.us

This website is intended only as an informational resource to consumers arnd healthcare workers. It should NOT be construed as offering or providing profesional medical or legal advice.

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