advance directives

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Syn: living will. A formal written statement setting out a person's wishes in the event of incapacitating illness such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease. Advance directives may include information such as do-not-resuscitate orders and instructions about preferred methods of disposal of the body after death. It is important to ensure the legal force of an advance directive because without this, family members, physicians, nurses, and “right to life” activists in some jurisdictions can intervene and may gratuitously prolong terminal illness and suffering.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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