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Start the Advance Care Planning Conversation: Establishing Advance Directives

• 92% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, but only 32% have actually done so.

• 97% of people say it’s important to put their end-of-life wishes in writing, but only 37% have actually done it.

If something happened to you and you were unable to make healthcare or financial decisions for yourself, would your loved ones know your wishes? Establishing advance directives like a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (DPOA-HC), a Living Will, or a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, will help alleviate the burden for your loved ones if they need to make personal decisions for your care during a stressful and emotional time.

Advance directives are instructions you give regarding your future care. Family, friends and medical providers attempt to understand and fulfill your instructions, no matter what form they are in. However, to ensure that everyone understands your instructions, the State of New Hampshire recognizes a written advance directive as a legal document with two parts: a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will.

A Durable Power of Attorney identifies your health care agent (often called “proxy”). This is the person that you trust to act on your behalf if you are unable to make health care decisions or communicate your wishes.

A Living Will gives your medical team guidance on the type of care you want at the very end of your life.

A Durable Power of Attorney (financial) is a legal document that authorizes another person to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. This is not a part of your health care record.

But where to start…


“Just sitting down and having a conversation with a family member or loved one is a great place to start,” says AnneMarie Lamson, RN, BSN, ACM-RN, CHGCN, Director of Care Coordination at Wentworth-Douglass. “Sharing what matters most to you about your end of life care will be a big help. Each conversation you have helps to provide a shared understanding of your hopes and wishes. This helps your health care proxy when the time comes to make decisions,” Lamson adds.

The Institute for Health improvement created The Conversation Project to help individuals and families through what can be a difficult conversation. Conversations about the end of life can be daunting but tools from The Conversation Project can guide people through the process to make sure their own wishes, and their loved ones wishes, are shared and respected. Learn more at the


Social Workers at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital are available at no cost to help you navigate the advance care planning process and answer questions. Advance directives appointments are available Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

To make an appointment with the Social Work Department, call (603) 740-2826 or email 

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