Advance Directive: A written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, often including a living will, made to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor. The document identifies a healthcare agent(s) to carry out one’s wishes.
Living Will: A document that directs a caregiver concerning end-of-life decisions. A living will provides space for more in-depth discussion regarding end-of-life wishes; however, one specific person is not appointed to being in charge of making decisions.
Agent (Healthcare Agent or Durable Power of Attorney): The person who is designated by a loved one, a friend, or a family member to make healthcare decisions, including end-of-life decisions, in the case that a person is unable to make his or her own decisions.
Palliative Care: An approach that focuses on patient comfort and neither “hastens or postpones dying as a natural process.” Palliative care helps treat or prevent pain, as well as the symptoms and side effects of disease and treatment (for instance, emotional, social, and spiritual challenges sparked by a terminal or critical illness).
Hospice Care: A medical benefit provided by a healthcare team whose goal is to provide pain control and comfort measures. Hospice care is utilized when treatment for a cure is no longer an option.