Advance Directives & Health Care Proxies

Planning for peace of mind for you and your loved ones

Communicate Your Health Care and End-of-Life Wishes 

It’s vitally important to talk with your family about end-of-life planning. At Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham, we partner with you to provide care that's right at every stage of your life.

Together, we create a plan to ensure your care wishes are respected, even when you cannot speak for yourself.

Learn more about your options and how to start that conversation with your loved ones.

Advance Directives

An advance directive communicates your goals and wishes for the care you’d like to receive if you become too sick to make health care decisions on your own. You can outline in advance the kinds of treatments you do or don’t want.

At BID Needham, we won’t use an advance directive if you can still make your own decisions. You can refuse or stop treatment at any time. You also can change or cancel your advance directive at any time.

Types of Advance Directives

There are different kinds of advance directives.
Health Care Proxy

A proxy is a person you appoint to make treatment decisions for you. The proxy becomes your voice when you can’t speak for yourself. This person is your medical power of attorney.

In Massachusetts, if you cannot make or express your own health care decisions, a completed health care proxy form is the only legally binding document related to your health care. That’s why it’s important to make plans and complete a proxy form in advance.

Notary services are available by appointment during regular business hours. Patients can ask nurse or Case Manager for assistance.

Living Will

This document tells your family and doctor the treatment you want as you near the end of your life or can no longer speak for yourself. A living will also is called a treatment directive.

Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST)

MOLST is a medical order form for seriously ill and older patients. MOLST records your wishes about treatments that might be used for your care. Your doctor talks with you about your condition. You complete the MOLST form together. Learn more about MOLST.

Durable Power of Attorney

In Massachusetts, a durable power of attorney applies to someone you name to act on your behalf. This designation applies to financial, legal and other concerns. Outside Massachusetts, health care proxy is sometimes called a “durable power of attorney for health care.”

Getting Started 

You can get forms for a health care proxy or living will online or in the BID Needham patient access and case management departments. You also can find these forms at your doctor’s office, a law office, state and local offices for the aging, senior centers and nursing homes. Once you complete the forms, provide copies to your family and doctors.

As you fill out your advance directive, think about different treatment options. Talk to family members about your wishes for hospice or palliative care.

Points to consider include whether you want to:

  • Be fed or get fluids through a tube if you can’t eat or drink.
  • Be on a machine that cleans your blood if your kidneys stop working.
  • Be on a machine that pumps air into your lungs through a tube if you can’t breathe on your own.
  • Receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops.
  • Take medicines to treat serious infections.

Take your time. Share your questions or concerns with a member of your health care team, including your doctor, nurse, social worker or chaplain.

Advance Planning Resources

Learn more about choosing a health care proxy and download our Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Form.

Learn more about advance directives, end-of-life planning, health care proxy, hospice care, medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) and palliative care from our Planning For Your Care guide.

These are tough choices to make. You don’t have to make them alone. Get tips on advance care planning from the Conversation Starter Kit.

For information, contact our case management team at 781-453-5414.