The Big Five! Advance Directive, aka Living Will, and the MOLST

This is not the most pleasant thing to think about, but I’m betting the majority of us saw the situation or have experience in which a person was not allowed to die with dignity or in their own way. An advance directive will let you spell out any wishes about the types of care you do or do not wish to receive, if you are unable to speak for yourself.

How NOT to do it: decades ago, my parents wrote a living will and mailed me a copy, then started on a road trip of some weeks duration. I had no idea what they had written, why they had written it, where they had gone, what they were doing or were Going to do. Things are better now – we can talk about the subject and prepare documents with a lot of thought for and knowledge of medical circumstances we might face.

In our state, we also have the MOLST – Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. We have been given a copy by hospitals, the VA, and perhaps a doctor’s office to fill out and have on file. This standardized form lets us indicate what forms of life-sustaining care we might or might not want, and the form can stand alone or be used in conjunction with a separate advance directive that provides additional information regarding our wishes. It is helpful to talk about the form with others, like your family, health care proxy, and doctor, to ensure that they will do their best to follow the instructions you leave. Two good online resources are: and

You’ve talked with your family and doctor, filled out and signed the paperwork, had it signed or witnessed, so now what? Keep the originals where they can be found. Tell your family you have done this (please!). Give a copy to your health care providers and your health care proxy (see March newsletter), and carry a card in your wallet that says you have a MOLST and advance directive. If you travel, take a copy with you. Then continue to enjoy your life!

To a long life,

Jean O’Neil, TRIAD committee member (Westhampton)