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Advance directives are legal documents that help you retain control over your last days. Advance directives include medical powers of attorney, living wills and — at least for some people — do not resuscitate orders (DNRs). In Colorado, DNRs are commonly called cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) directives.

Essentially, CPR directives tell medical providers that you are refusing CPR in any situation where you have stopped breathing or your heart has stopped beating. This includes manual stimulation (like mouth-to-mouth resuscitation), chemical stimulation (through the use of drugs) and mechanical stimulation (like a breathing machine).

A CPR directive can be created through the use of widely-available forms or it may be handwritten. The state laws do not require the use of any one specific form. In addition, you can create an effective CPR directive by communicating your wishes through a “No CPR” bracelet or necklace. However, your wishes are more likely to be effectively communicated and respected if you have a written document. That document should also clearly discuss what treatment you do wish to receive (such as comfort care) during your final hours.

Decisions about CPR directives are highly personal. Some religions forbid them, while others are more accepting. Your family dynamics may also come into play. Some of your family members may have opposing views on the subject. It’s very important to make sure that the person you choose to oversee your health care wishes and medical power of attorney understands your views on CPR and other life-saving measures.

An experienced attorney who is experienced in estate planning can help you customize your advance directives in a way that best fits your needs.