Medicare Glossary

Definitions for common Medicare terms

advance directive

DEFINITION: An advance directive is a legal document that describes your wishes for your medical care and case management in the event that you’re not able to communicate them yourself.

Advance directives include a power of attorney document (in which you designate a person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable physically or mentally to make those decisions yourself), and a living will (in which you detail your specific wishes regarding your medical care, including types of treatment that you do or do not want to receive, whether you want to be an organ donor, etc.). This Mayo Clinic resource provides more information about advance directives.