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Advanced Directives 101

Think about advance planning as a process, instead of a single event. Planning for your future includes understanding your values, preferences, beliefs, and what medical terms mean. An advance directive is a record of that process.

One definition of the word advance is to move forward in a purposeful way. A definition of directives is an official instruction. Using these meanings, we can consider advanced directives as the process of preparing your health care in a purposeful official approach.

Bring to mind store aisles when thinking about advance directives. Aisle one is where you begin considering what are your values, beliefs, personality, and what quality of life looks like to you. The next aisle is expressing those ideas in state approved advance directive documents. At the last aisle you appoint a person (an Agent through power of attorney) to speak on your behalf when you can no longer speak for yourself.

How do you know what are medical terms and what they mean?

If you live with a specific health condition, learn about it. Educate yourself on the progression of the condition. Consider what the situation may do to limit your activity level, mobility, reasoning ability, or self care status. In some cases, care costs are a consideration.

Speak with your health care provider to understand about treatments, along with benefits and risks. Consider information in terms of how you view life and living preferences. For example, the public generally doesn’t know what resuscitation feels or looks like.

For facts in making decisions there are resources available to explain terms to you. With education you can make better decisions.

** has a health information library. Health care choices are clearly explained. I like the “key points to remember” section. The examples were relatable and helpful.

** is a site with patient questions in important health care areas. For example, About Ventilators, Nutrition Options, or Dialysis. This site also shares information on cost of care.

What are the resources for helping create an advance directive?

Developing advance directives involves understanding enmeshed with practical thinking of your health, the quality and type of life you wish. These decisions are often good to discuss with close family, friends, clergy persons, or doctor. People you feel care or have concern about you.

There are several websites. Due to space, I highlighted two below.

  • Utah Commission on Aging presents as a virtual resource for older adults. The Aging Issues tab offers a comprehensive section dedicated to advance care planning. English and Spanish forms are provided. Guidance is supplied each step of the way.

  • is a program to guide you with creating documents. The forms are in English and Spanish. When the forms are created, download them for signatures.

How can I gain peace of mind?

Creating advanced directives helps you navigate life and health challenges your way, infused with what matters to you. Share the directives with those who are dear to you. Store your documents in a safe and accessible place.

Janeil Esplin is a licensed social service worker with a BS degree in Psychology.

As AAA-Five County expanded in 2016 to include direct service to military Veterans she gained Veteran Service Officer accreditation from the Utah Department of Veteran and Military Affairs. Specifically she specializes assisting 60+ year old veterans and veteran surviving spouses navigate the VA health and benefit programs.

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