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Advance Care Planning

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You have the ability to make decisions regarding your medical care, even when you are too sick or injured, to make your wishes known. This is called Advance Care Planning and can include documents that help make your treatment preferences known to your family, friends, and medical providers.

Whether you complete a document or not, it’s important to talk about your wishes with others. Unexpected events can happen at any age. It is never too early to start a conversation about the kind of care you would want if you were in a sudden accident or became seriously ill. In the event that you become unable to make or communicate your treatment preferences, your medical providers will look to those close to you for guidance on the kind of treatments you would want or not want. The more you talk about your choices for care, the more comfortable your family or friends will feel speaking for you if necessary.

Picture of senior couple talking with clinician and looking at computer

There are five key steps to successful advance care planning:

  1. Think - Think about what matters to you.
  2. Talk - Talk about your wishes with your family, friends, and medical providers.
  3. Put it in writing - Document your choices and decisions.
  4. Share - Share your documents with your family, friends, and medical providers.
  5. Review - Review your advance care plan periodically with your family, friends, and medical providers, including any documents you created at least once a year.

Advance Directives

An advance directive is a document you fill out to communicate your wishes for your health care in the event you become seriously ill or injured.

  • An advance directive can name someone to make medical decisions for you when you cannot communicate your treatment preferences.
  • An advance directive can also make known what medical treatments you do and do not want to have if you were to have an accident or become seriously ill.

Injury or illness can happen to any of us at any age. Anyone 18 or older benefits from completing an advance directive. You do not need a lawyer to complete an advance directive but may wish to discuss with a lawyer if have question about how to make one or make documents legally effective.

If you have already completed an advance directive, we encourage you to bring a copy to your next appointment with your primary medical provider. It’s important to look over your advance directive every few years and update if you want to change any of your earlier choices.

Advance Directive Forms for North Carolina

MOST and DNR Forms

A Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST) form is for people with an advanced, serious illness. It instructs medical providers on specific medical treatments you do or do not want to receive at this time. It must be signed by you and your medical provider.

A Do Not Resuscitate form is an order that instructs medical providers to not preform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you stop breathing or your heart stops. It is signed by your medical provider.

For both forms, you must talk with your medical provider about your health and wishes before completing them.


If you have questions about advance care planning or any of the forms mentioned above, please talk with your primary medical provider.

Additional Resources

  • Prepare for Your Care - online step-by-step guide to choosing a decision maker and thinking about your medical wishes. 
  • Aging with Dignity - advance care planning resources including Five Wishes form
  • Organ Donation - information on joining the organ, eye and tissue donor registry

Make your voice heard and start the conversation today!

For more information on advance care planning, download the guide below.

UNC Advance Care Planning Booklet - English

REX Advance Care Planning Booklet - English

UNC and REX Advance Care Planning Booklet - Spanish