A Health Care Directive is a document that lets you leave instructions about your health care and name a “Health Care Agent.” A Health Care Agent is someone you choose who can make decisions about your health care when your doctor determines you can’t make decisions yourself.
You may name an Agent without leaving instructions about your care OR you may leave instructions without naming an agent. Or you can do both. You choose.
Your Health Care Agent must be 18 or older. Pick someone you know well who will follow your wishes, act in your best interest and who will be available to your health care providers. Anyone can be your Agent except a health care provider or employee of a provider giving you care, unless you are related to that person by blood, marriage, registered domestic partnership or adoption.
You may also say in the Health Care Directive why you want that person to be your Agent.
It is very important to talk to the person you name as your Agent to be sure they are willing to make your health care decisions when it may become necessary. You also want to make sure they know what your wishes are for your health care.
Keep it with personal papers in a safe place where others can find it, not in a safe deposit box. Give signed copies to doctors, family, close friends, the Agent you named to make decisions for you, and the person you named as an alternate agent. Ask to have it put in your file at your doctor’s office and the hospital, home care agency, hospice or nursing home.