With an advance care directive, you can put instructions about...

With an advance care directive, you can put instructions about medical treatments into a legal document that goes into effect only if you are unable to speak for yourself. Credit: Handout

You may know what medical care you would want -- and not want -- if you became incapacitated. But if the decision is left to your loved ones or doctors, would they know what you desire?

With an advance care directive, you can put instructions about medical treatments into a legal document that goes into effect only if you are unable to speak for yourself.

While the subject is sometimes hard to consider, the National Institute on Aging makes it easier to tackle with a free tip sheet. "Advance Care Planning" is available for download at 1.usa.gov/ careplanning. The eight-page booklet includes an advance directive wallet card (pictured) you can use to record some crucial information and keep with you at all times.

You can also order a free printed copy of the publication by calling 800-222-2225.