Advance Directives (also known as living will, personal directive or advanced health care directive) informs others of your wishes about your health care. It allows you to name a person (“agent”) to decide for you if you are unable to decide. It also allows you to name an agent if you want someone else to decide for you. You must be at least 18 years old to make a health care directive.
Why Have a Health Care Directive?
A health care directive is important if your attending physician determines you can’t communicate your health care choices (because of physical or mental incapacity). It is also important if you wish to have someone else make your health care decisions. In some circumstances, your directive may state that you want someone other than an attending physician to decide when you cannot make your own decisions.
Before you prepare or revise your directive, you should discuss your health care wishes with your doctor or other health care provider.
What Can I Put in a Health Care Directive?
You have many choices of what to put in your health care directive. For example, you may include:
- The person you trust as your agent to make health care decisions for you. You can name alternative agents in case the first agent is unavailable, or joint agents.
- Your goals, values and preferences about health care.
- The types of medical treatment you would want (or not want).
- How you want your agent or agents to decide.
- Where you want to receive care.
- Instructions about artificial nutrition and hydration.
- Mental health treatments that use electroshock therapy or neuroleptic medications.
- Instructions if you are pregnant.
- Donation of organs, tissues and eyes.
- Funeral arrangements.
- Who you would like as your guardian or conservator if there is a court action.
You may be as specific or as general as you wish. You can choose which issues or treatments to deal with in your health care directive.
Click to access and print out an Advance Directives form. Take it to either clinic and HHC will make a copy to put in our files.
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