Skip to main content

Advance directives and living will

Aetna Compassionate Care℠  Program Compassion. Caring. Support.


The Aetna Compassionate Care Program is here to help you and your family through trying times.



Advance directives


The term “advance directives” means you explain what kind of medical treatment you want — or do not want — if you can't make your wishes known because of illness or an accident. You can explain what you want by telling someone or writing it down. There are two types: living wills and durable power of attorney.


  • It is your right to choose your medical care.  Discuss your wishes with your doctor. 
  • DNR means “do not resuscitate.”  It does not mean do not treat. 
  • Advance directives do not expire. 
  • Emergency medical technicians cannot honor advance directives/living wills or medical power of attorney. Once EMS has been called they must administer care. Only a doctor, after medical review, can act on an advanced directive. 
  • To ensure your wishes are followed, provide copy of your advanced directive to your doctor, your family, and have it readily available. 
  • You should review your advance directives periodically. If you want to make changes, create a new document. 
  • Inform all necessary parties if you make any changes. 

  • Life Sustaining Treatment Consideration (LST): Life sustaining treatments are medical procedures that support and keep you alive when your body is not able to do it on its own. You may want to consider what life sustaining treatment you want in your advanced directives. 
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR): This means that you do not want to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other treatment to restart your heart and breathing should they stop.  Some of these treatments include chest compressions, electric stimulation, and medications. 
  • Do Not Intubate (DNI): This means you do not wish to have a breathing tube and or machine to breath for you. 
  • Do Not Hospitalize (DNH): This allows you to decide what setting you want your care to be provided in. When a person chooses not to be hospitalized they are deciding to remain in their current location. 
  • Artificial Nutrition and Hydration: When talking about nutrition and hydration there are things to consider. Some things to think about include: your comfort, personal feelings about artificial hydration and nutrition, and your medical condition. It may help to know that when a person’s illness advances, and they stop eating and drinking either naturally or by choice, they may no longer have the feeling of hunger or thirst. This decision should be discussed with your doctor.

Advance directives are accepted throughout the United States, however may not be recognized from one state to another.  Below are links to external resources that can help you prepare an Advance Directive:


Please check for your specific state.


U.S. Living Will Registry/U.S. Advance Care Plan Registry


POLST/Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment


A living will talks about your personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well as your medical wishes.


5 Wishes/A Living Will


This free service will help you create a Universal Advance Digital Directive (uADD)™.


My Directives

If you are an Aetna medical member and would like more information about the Aetna Compassionate Care program, please call the member services number on your ID card.

Legal notices

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).

Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations.

Also of interest: