My Healthcare Choices

Choosing the Level of Care You’re Comfortable With

You may be healthy, or you may be struggling with chronic illness. Whatever your situation, you have the right to make your own medical choices. Unfortunately, accidents, illnesses and unforeseen events can affect anyone at any time. So, it’s important to be prepared. Outlining your medical choices now ensures your wishes are followed and takes the burden off those who are important to you if they are called upon to speak for you.   

Today, with so many medical advances, we have many more choices about how we’d like to be cared for if a serious accident or illness occurs. Since it’s impossible to plan for every potential medical situation, it is important to talk with a person you trust about your personal values and preferences for your medical care. Because your wishes may change over time as your life circumstances change, it is important to revisit your wishes often and communicate any changes with your champions and your medical providers.   

There are other scales for treatment choices. Both The Conversation Project and Begin the Conversation have useful tool kits to help you think about your values and discuss your wishes with those you love. 

General options to consider


If your primary goal is to live as long as possible, your doctor will use all available treatments to keep you alive. This may include CPR (to try and restart the heart and/or lungs if they stop working), a ventilator (breathing machine) or feeding tubes, depending on your needs. 

Treatment – to a point

Some people want to be treated but don’t want extraordinary measures taken (such as treatment in the intensive care unit, feeding tubes or ventilators). If this is you, you may want an “in-between” level of care that designates what’s OK – and what’s not. For example, you may decide that intravenous (IV) fluids and monitors are acceptable, but ventilators are not. Or you may decide you would want to try a treatment, such as a ventilator, for a limited amount of time to see if it works, but not forever.  

Comfort measures

If you are faced with a situation where a cure is not possible, you may choose to limit your medical care to only those activities that would keep you comfortable, such as wearing an oxygen mask or receiving medications for pain management.   

These decisions tend to change over time, so it is important to update your wishes regularly. 

For help in clarifying your values

The Go Wish game, developed by the Coda Alliance, helps you think about things that would matter most to you. Playing the game with your Champion, decision-maker and others involved in your life provides an easy and fun way to share those choices with those who are important to you. When you’re done, you can print a copy of your wishes to share with others.