Advance Care Planning

Sometimes it takes living through the death of a loved one for people to understand the need to make advance plans for end-of-life care. You have the right and the responsibility to make decisions about your own medical treatment. These decisions become more difficult if, due to illness or a change in mental condition, you are unable to tell your doctor and loved ones what kind of healthcare treatments you want. Making these decisions for you is a difficult burden for your loved ones to shoulder. That is why it is important for you to make your wishes known in advance. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the important documents below:

  • Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD)
    This document is a way to make your healthcare wishes known if you are unable to speak for yourself or prefer someone else to speak for you. An AHCD can serve as power of attorney for healthcare (to appoint an agent) and/or instructions for healthcare (to indicate your wishes).
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
    Also referred to as a Health Care Proxy, this legal document names your healthcare proxy—the person you want to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make them yourself. Be sure to discuss this with that person before naming them as your agent. Once written, the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care should be signed, dated, witnessed, notarized, copied, and put into your medical record.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
    You may also want to appoint someone to manage your financial affairs when you cannot. A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances is a separate legal document from the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. You may choose the same person for both, or choose different people to represent you.
  • Living Will
    This is a set of instructions documenting your wishes about life-sustaining medical care. It is used if you become terminally ill, incapacitated, or unable to communicate or make decisions. A living will protects your rights to accept or refuse medical care and removes the burden for making decisions from your family, friends, and medical professionals. Living wills are especially useful if someone is in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or receiving hospice care.
  • Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
    A POLST is a legally recognized document that directs physicians and other healthcare providers to provide specified resuscitation and other life-sustaining measures at the end of life. It is a physician’s order that reflects the patient’s preferences regarding resuscitation, general medical interventions, antibiotic use, and artificial nutrition. A POLST focuses only on health emergencies and lets EMTs and hospitals know what to do to honor your preferences.

MarinHealth AHCD

We offer an AHCD online for your convenience. The document allows you to record your end-of-life instructions, including:

  • Personal, cultural, and religious end-of-life preferences
  • Power of Attorney for Health Care—choosing a proxy whom you trust to honor your wishes
  • Instructions for end-of-life care, such as pain relief and the circumstances under which you want treatment to be withdrawn
  • Whether or not you agree to organ donation

Download our AHCD here, in English or Spanish.