Preventive Medicine: Advance Directive for Older Adults

Though not necessarily top of mind when we think of “preventive medicine,” I do believe an advance directive should be included, especially for older adults.

  1. An advance directive is a legal 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. It’s not something we like to think or talk about, but it is important to talk to your physician and family about an Advance Directive. An advance directive is important when others may be involved in making medical decisions for you when you can’t speak for yourself. But while talking about your wishes is a great first step, they can’t be carried out unless they are put in an advance directive; check the laws in your state to ensure your Advance Directive is done correctly.
  1. As physicians we can’t honor your wishes if we don’t know what they are. The advance directive is an important way to communicate your wishes to everyone—physicians, family, friends—who may have a role in your care. But while talking about your wishes is a great first step, they can’t be carried out unless they are in writing.

If you meet with an attorney to draft a will, you can also discuss creating an advance directive at the same time. More end-of-life information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although it isn’t traditional “preventive medicine,” like getting a vaccine or taking an aspirin to reduce the risk of heart disease, an advance directive is something important to consider.

Mary Tuuk, MD, an expert in the care and treatment of aging adults, is chief medical officer at InnovAge



This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.

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