What is Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning is the process of thinking and talking about future medical decisions if you had a sudden event, like a car accident or illness, and could not make your own decisions. The best time to make these decisions is when you can choose for yourself.

Advance Care Planning involves important real life conversations to reflect on, discuss, and plan for a time when you cannot make your own health care decisions. It is a process for you to understand possible health care choices, think about these choices in light of the values and goals important to you, discuss your choices with your loved ones and health care providers, and make a plan for future situations.

Imagine this scenario:

A life threatening event has left you unable to communicate with those around you or to participate in your daily care, treatment planning, or decision making. Even though all care and available treatments are being provided, your doctors have determined your illness or injury cannot be cured and death is likely, or your brain function will not return.

 Ask yourself:

  • What does ‘living well’ mean to me? For example: If I were having a good day, what would happen on that day? Who would I talk to? What would I do?
  • What brings me joy and comfort?
  • What cultural, religious, spiritual, or personal beliefs, if any, might help me choose the care I want or don’t want?

 

Advance Directives

What is an Advance Directive for Health Care?
An Advance Directive allows you to write down your goals, values and preferences for future health care decisions and who you want to communicate your health care decisions if you are unable to communicate for yourself. For adults 18 and older, completing an Advance Directive is important if you had a life threatening event, like an accident or serious illness, and cannot make your own decisions.

Honoring Choices Idaho provides two options for completing an Advance Directive: Option 1: download and complete the PDF    and    Option 2: complete the Advance Directive online using the links below.

Please note: Honoring Choices® Idaho does not store or save your completed documents.

Idaho’s legal requirements for an Advance Directive for Health Care includes two (2) separate documents:

  1. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (Health Care Agent)
    Allows you to name one or more persons to communicate health care decisions on your behalf if you cannot communicate yourself. This person(s) is called your Health Care Agent.
    Fill Out Online
  2. Living Will for Health Care
    Allows you to provide written instructions for health care treatments based upon your values and what is important to you. These written instructions are important if you had a life threatening event, like an accident or serious illness, and cannot communicate for yourself.
    Fill Out Online

It is recommended that you complete both documents (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will for Health Care)Remember: To make your Advance Directive a legal document, you must download, print, sign and date both documents.

How to Select a Health Care Agent

Who Makes a Good Health Care Agent?

Your Health Care Agent should be someone you know well and trust to follow your wishes about future health care. Ideally, choose one Health Care Agent and one or two backup (alternate) Health Care Agents. A Health Care Agent also is known as a power-of-attorney for health care, substitute decision-maker, proxy or surrogate.

How do I choose the right person?

Before choosing your Health Care Agent, ask yourself:

  • Are they at least 18 years old?
  • Will they be clearheaded in difficult or stressful situations?
  • Will they be available when needed?
  • Can I talk with them about my personal belief and values?
  • Will they be able to ask questions and get answers from doctors and hospital staff?
  • Will they follow my wishes, even if they don’t agree?
  • Will they be able to stand up for me against those who disagree?
  • Are they willing to accept this role?

When is my Health Care Agent involved?

Your health care team will call on your Health Care Agent only when you are unable to make medical decisions and/or cannot communicate. Your Health Care Agent focuses only on health care decisions and is not authorized to make financial or business decisions for you.

What decisions might my Health Care Agent be asked to make?

  • Starting, continuing, or stopping medical care or services, such as tests, medications, treatments, and surgery.
  • Releasing my medical records.
  • Choosing where and how I get my care.
  • Assisting with funeral arrangements.

Go here for information about being a health care agent.

 

Being a Health Care Agent

If someone has selected you as a health care agent, you may be wondering, “How can I prepare to be a Health Care Agent?

The best way to prepare for this important role is to talk with the person to understand his or her wishes for future health care. Be sure to talk about medical decisions that may come at the end of life. Being a Health Care Agent means you are trusted to make health care decisions on behalf of the person above if he or she cannot make those decisions. You may need to talk from time to time to see if his or her choices have changed.

To help you be prepared, talk with the person about:

“What does living well mean to him or her?”
“What brings comfort and joy?”
“What cultural, religious, spiritual, or personal beliefs, if any, are important in choosing care?”

During these conversations some people say things like:

“I want to die with dignity.”
Don’t keep me alive with machines.”
Just keep me comfortable.”

These words can mean many different things. Ask the person what he or she means.

 Find help to have these conversations.

Talking about a person’s wishes for future health care may be uncomfortable. However, the more you understand and are clear about what someone wants, the more confident you will feel as a Health Care Agent.

Consider talking to professionals who help people with Advance Care Planning such as:

Go here for help selecting a health care agent.