It is often difficult for individuals to think about the care and treatment they want in the event they are incapable of making their own health care decisions. Preparing in advance for the unexpected gives you peace-of-mind.
We advise you to take the time to complete an AHCD. This important document gives you the opportunity to appoint an agent, giving this person the power to make decisions on your healthcare treatment decisions and instructions on your behalf, as well as direct the disposition of your remains, whether you choose cremation or burial.
As a service to all who live in Southern California, we’ve included a PDF of an Advance Health Care Directive on our website. You can download it here:
Why Should I Complete the AHCD?
This important document lets your physician, family, and friends know your health care preferences, including the types of special treatment you want (or don’t want) at the end of life, including diagnostic testing, any surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ donation. When you choose cremation or burial, this directive gives your agent the power to fulfill your exact wishes.
By choosing to review your options early, you can avoid having your family “guess” your wishes, or make critical medical care decisions for you while they are under emotional stress.
Our AHCD Checklist
This checklist is intended as informational only and not as legal advice. If you are unsure of your options or have questions, we suggest that you talk with your physician, your lawyer, and other trusted advisors.
Gather all the information you need for making these decisions. You may wish to start with your family physician, a key person to help you to understand your personal medical options on health care treatment at the end of life.
Discuss your end-of-life options with your ‘inner circle.’ Talk about your decisions with your family, physician, and others who are close to you. Some questions to consider for discussion:
- What is important to you when you are dying?
- Are there specific medical treatments you especially want or do not want?
- When you are dying, do you want to be in a nursing home, hospital or at home?
- What are the options in palliative or hospice care?
Designate the person you wish to carry out your intentions. Select who should handle your health care choices and discuss the matter with them. You could name a spouse, relative or another agent.
Prepare your AHCD form. Under state law, you have a legal right to express your health care wishes and to have them considered in situations when you are unable to make these decisions yourself.
Notify others of your preferences. This list includes your doctor, family, close friends or clergy. Keep a copy of your signed and completed advance health care directive safe and accessible. Give a copy of your form to:
- The person you appoint as your agent and any alternately designated agents
- Your physician
- Your health care providers
- The healthcare institution that is providing your care
- Family members
- Another responsible person who is likely to be called if there is a medical emergency
But don’t neglect to keep a copy of your signed and completed advance health care directive safe and accessible – not in a safe deposit box.
A California AHCD form is available here. Don’t wait to take this important step in caring for yourself and those you love.