An advance directive is a way to tell your family and doctor your wishes if you cannot make decisions yourself. A directive can include the type and extent of your medical care. There are forms to help you express your wishes to your family and doctor before a crisis.
Many people are nervous about starting an advance directive. But with the right forms and help from a social worker, you can feel good about the decisions you make.
Who should have advance directives?
Everyone. Each of us may face a medical crisis. Illness or injury can make anyone unable to make health care decisions.
When should I do my advance directives?
Now. It is best to do it while you are able to think clearly and before a crisis happens. You will also want to review and update your directives every year.
What is power of attorney or a health care agent?
You can have another person make health care decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. You can give that person authorization on a form called medical power of attorney. The person you choose is called an agent. This person can be a friend, family member, or licensed professional.
When choosing a health care agent, think of someone you feel close to—someone you trust to communicate with your doctors if you are not able.
Here are some documents to help you understand and prepare to complete an advance directive:
- Advance Health Care Planning Tool Kit – 10 tools to help you decide what to say in your advance directive
- Advance Health Care Directives for Patients Living Outside of Utah
- University of Utah's Center on Aging: Utah Advance Health Care Directive forms and instructions
- Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
- POLST form
- Healthcare planning (advance directive) factsheets
Watch this video from National Healthcare Decisions Day to learn more: