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If you needed medical care unexpectedly, do you know what kind or treatment you would want? It’s important to think about and talk to your loved ones about your healthcare wishes.

Advance care planning is an important part of making sure you receive the medical care that you want, in the event that you are unable to share your wishes. Its impact on your family could eliminate the stress and uncertainty that comes with making a difficult decision on your behalf.

Advance care planning is not about your age or overall health. It’s about being ready for whatever comes your way. Every adult should have an advance care plan, no matter his or her age. After talking with your loved ones about what you would want, it’s time to express your wishes in writing.

Three Basic Steps of Advance Care Planning

  • Think about your wishes and talk with your family
  • Decide what care plan is right for you
  • Write down your choices to create your advance care plan
  • Pennsylvania’s advance directive law (Act 169 of 2006) has been revised to provide greater clarity to individuals and healthcare providers regarding the use of advance directives. Below are a series of questions and answers about Pennsylvania’s advance directive law. In addition, you can find a link to a simplified Advance Healthcare Directive Form in the "Downloadable Forms" section below.

    Advance Care Planning - Key Points

    • You should start Advance Care Planning today to retain control over your medical care in case there is a time when you are unable to make your own decisions
    • Advance Care Planning tools include:
      • Advance directives (living will and healthcare power of attorney)
      • POLST (Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment)
    • A living will is a document that expresses your wishes regarding end-of-life care
    • Healthcare power of attorney is a document that enables you to appoint someone to make decisions for you
    • POLST is a document, signed by your physician, that translates your end-of-life wishes into a physician order
    • It’s very important to think about the care you want or don’t want, to discuss these wishes with your physician, family, and friends, and to appoint a decision maker you trust
    • If you don’t have an advance directive and are unable to make you own decisions, it’s possible that people you don’t want making decisions for you will be the ones making decisions
    • It’s never too early to start Advance Care Planning
    • Everyone should have an advance directive, regardless of age
    • If you would like your advance directive forms included in your medical record with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, please email a copy to

    Downloadable Forms

    Resources for More Information

    Below are a number of resources that can provide more information:

    Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health has a dedicated website about Advance Care Planning, which includes information about any upcoming community events.

    Pennsylvania Department of Aging
    555 Walnut Street, 5th Floor
    Harrisburg, PA 17101-1919

    Pennsylvania Medical Society
    777 East Park Drive P.O. Box 8820
    Harrisburg, PA 17105-8820

    Aging With Dignity
    P.O. Box 1661
    Tallahassee, FL 32302-1661

    Gift of Life Donor Program
    401 N. 3rd Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19123
    800-DONORS1 (800-366-6771)

    What If I Have Questions?

    Please call your doctor’s office with any questions about your care or you can contact our program coordinator at 717-544-4047 or via email at for information on community seminars and individual consultations.

    If you would like your advance directive forms included in your medical record with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, please email a copy to

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