Facebook Twitter Instagram You Tube Pinterest LinkedIn RSS Podcasts Video Library Blog
 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Advance Directives

Advance directives are legal documents with written instructions regarding your medical care wishes and preferences. A living will and a medical power of attorney are important documents within advance directives. A living will describes your end-of-life wishes, whereas a power of attorney allows you to select a family member or friend, designated as an agent, as your medical decision maker. You can pick up current advance directive forms specific to Illinois at any of the Health Learning Centers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Advance Directives
This site features a large array of information of choices on advance directives. Not only does it provide an overview on this subject, it offers research, specific conditions, journal articles, organizations, and related issues on advance directives.

Mayo Clinic: Living Wills and Advance Directives: Tools for Medical Wishes
This site highlights every important aspect of advance directives. It explains each important document of advance directives, treatments and interventions to discuss your preferences, information about forms for each state, how to revise your wishes from time to time, and how to talk about end-of-life issues.

American Academy of Family Physicians – Advance Directives
This site offers information on advance directives. Some important information is answered such as, what is a living will and a medical power of attorney? Other informative sections answer questions such as should I have an advance directive, how can I write one, and how can I change my advance directive?

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization – Caring Connections
This site makes it easy to make smart choices when choosing a health care agent. It explains what a health care agent is, the steps to selecting an agent that is right for you, what they can decide for you, and the benefits of having an agent.


  • Better way of dying: How to make the best choices at the end of life. Fitzpatrick J. 2010.
  • To die well: Your right to comfort, calm, and choice in the last days of life. Wanzer S. 2007.
  • Last rights: Rescuing the end of life from the medical system. Kiernan S. 2006.
  • A graceful exit: Life and death on your own terms. Basta L. 1996.

Search our collection for many more resources concerning end-of-life planning.

Journals and Journal Articles

  • “Advance Directives. Planning ahead for end-of-life medical care.” Mayo Clinic Women’s Healthsource. (14(7); 4-5. July 2010.
  • “Advance care planning in children with life-limiting conditions – the Wishes Document. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 95(2):79-82. February 2010.
  • “End-of-life issues in critically ill cancer patients.” Critical Care Clinics. 26(1):219-27. January 2010.
  • “Advance care planning: Beyond the living will.” Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 76(5):276-85. May 2009.
  • “Making the most of psychiatric advance directives. Potential benefits, controversies, and why a team approach is best.” Harvard Mental Health Letter. 24(6):1–3. December 2007.


  • Advance Medical Directives: Something to think about. . . . 14 min.
  • Choices (Advance Directives.) 14 min.
  • Facing Death. 78 min.
  • Partners in Care: Advance Directives. 11 min.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Alberto Culver Health Learning Center at 312-926-5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateOctober 30, 2012