Law for Older Americans

Health Care Advance Directives

Where should you keep the directive?

Keep the original in a safe place where it is easily found. Give a copy to:

  • your doctor, asking that it be made part of your medical record
  • your agent, making sure he or she knows where to find the original
  • any successor agent or family member who is likely to be involved in decisions
  • any health care facility you know will be treating you in the future
  • your lawyer, even if he or she did not prepare the document

Consider keeping a wallet card containing a notice that an advance directive exists and information about how to contact your agent. State and national groups distribute such cards, but anyone can create a homemade version. In addition, a few national registries of advance directives offer to make your directive available to health care providers electronically.

Talk to your doctor and agent to make sure they understand your directive and have an opportunity to ask you questions. The more they understand your wishes, the better they will be able to carry them out.

>>What is a health care advance directive?
>>How do you plan a health care advance directive?
>>Is a health care advance directive the same as a living will?
>>Why can't I just tell my doctor what I want?
>>Will doctors and hospitals recognize my advance directive?
>>What is the Patient Self-Determination Act?
>>How do you write an advance directive?
>>What kinds of decisions does a health-care agent make?
>>How do you select a health-care agent?
>>Are there any formalities of signing an advance directive?
>>Can you change or terminate your advance directive?
>>Where should you keep the directive?
>>When should you review your advance directive?
>>Is an advance directive still good when you cross state lines?


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