Advance care planning is a process, not an event, and is planning for future care based on a person’s values, beliefs, preferences, and specific medical issues. An advance directive is the record of that process.
It is both an umbrella term for defining and expressing how one wants to live and be treated and for state approved advance directive documents which allow you to specify those things and usually to appoint a person (healthcare power of attorney) to speak when you are unable to speak for yourself.
In this section, you will learn about:
How Do I Find an Advance Directive for my State?
CaringInfo provides free advance directives and instructions for each state that can be opened as a PDF (Portable Document Format) file, which may be filled in online. The states vary in their requirements for witnesses, notarization and other specifics so review the form and its instructions carefully.
Preparing and storing your advance directive
The first steps in preparing an advance directive are to think about what is important to you, to talk with people you are close to, and to inform yourself about your health. Armed with this knowledge, you can make choices about your future treatment and let other people know what they are, both in person and in writing. From there you can find the best way to store and retrieve your advance directive as necessary.
What Is a Healthcare Agent?
A healthcare agent is also known as a surrogate or proxy and is someone you designate and empower to make medical decisions for you if, at some future time, you are unable to make decisions yourself. Your agent can be a close relative or friend but should be someone who knows you well and someone you trust to speak on your behalf. In most states, your agent can make decisions any time you lose the ability to make a medical decision, not just decisions about the end of life.