Making Your Wishes Known

Advance Directives

What if the unthinkable happened?

You make choices on a daily basis. Perhaps one of the most important choices facing you is your choice for future health care. Who decides when enough is enough? You do.

It is not easy to consider the kinds of events that turn life upside down, but that is what advanced care planning is all about.


You’re an 80-year-old widowed ranch wife.

You have worked hard all your life, but suddenly find yourself living in a nursing home and your ability to make your own decisions is gone. You can feed yourself and talk to people, but you no longer know who you are, who your family is or what happens from moment to moment.


You’re a 40-year-old professional family man who is in great shape and enjoys mountain biking.

While driving to Denver for a weekend you are in a serious auto accident that results in major physical injury. You find yourself on life support and you and your wife have never discussed what you would want in this situation.


You are 20 years old.

It’s the weekend and there is fresh powder in the mountains. It’s a perfect day for the college snowboarding trip. Halfway down the first run you lose control and hit a tree. Days later you are lying in a hospital bed with severe brain damage, unlikely to every fully recover. Your parents can’t stand the thought of losing you, but they don’t know what you would want done in this situation.

Starting the Conversation with Loved Ones

Talking with friends, family, and your healthcare provider may not be easy, but it will help them understand what is important to you and why. It will also help them support you and your decisions.

The Conversation Project has a guide that can help you start the conversation about your wishes for care through the end of life, so those wishes can be understood and respected.

Expressing Your Wishes

Do I need a lawyer or a doctor?

No, Colorado state and federal laws do not require you to have an attorney to complete advance directives, however, it is strongly recommended that you visit with your doctor when creating your advance directive. Most doctors’ offices will now keep your advance directive on file and scan into the regional health information network to assure it is readily available.

My Wishes

Think about under what circumstances you would want certain significant medical intervention and share those with your Medical Durable Power of Attorney (MDPOA) and family members. Different circumstances can change what you might consider, so discuss various scenarios and when these kinds of treatments would be something you might want:

  • Breathing Machine
  • Tube Feedings
  • Antibiotics
  • IV Fluids
  • Blood Transfusions
  • CPR
  • Major Surgery
  • Experimental Drugs or Procedures
  • What percent success rate would be enough for you to consider undergoing treatment?

Making Your Wishes Known

Who we are, what we believe and what we value are each important when making decisions about medical treatment. When we are personally unable to communicate our wishes, advance care planning can help make our wishes known.

Colorado Laws protect your rights to accept or refuse medical treatment, including life support. Information about advanced care planning or advance directives is required to be given to you at admission to any health care facility in Colorado or enrollment in an HMO. If you do not have an MDPOA, a group of people will be chosen as proxies and they will make decisions on your behalf.

You have a right to accept or refuse any medical care and treatment, unless care is ordered by a court. In an emergency, however, your consent will be assumed for CPR, medical care and treatment. If you do not wish to be resuscitated, you must have a Colorado CPR form at the location with you to be honored by emergency personnel. A magnetic folder with a butterfly label on your refrigerator is where advanced directives are universally located in Mesa County homes.

How will people know I have an Advanced Directive?

Send advance directives to your family.

Send advance directives to your doctor.

Most doctors’ offices will now keep your advance directive on a regional health electronic information network called the Quality Health Network (QHN).

Keep advance directives with you.

Printable forms:

Keep advance directives at your home in the HopeWest butterfly folder.

You can request a magnetic folder with a butterfly label for your refrigerator– universally known in Mesa County to hold advanced directives such as MDPOA information and CPR directives. Please contact Mary at to request a copy or if you have any questions about Advance Directives.