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April 01, 2015

Health Decisions Resources

(The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: (Bifocal, Vol. 36, Issue 4).)

Focus on: Health Care Decision-Making

The Commission's Health Decisions Resources webpage hosts resources for consumers, attorneys, and advocates. Below, you will find an excerpt from our popular flyer Health Decisions Resources, which directs readers to information that will in assist in discussions and decisions about advance care planning.

Thinking About and Discussing Your Goals and Values

Consumer’s Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning, by the ABA Commission on Law and Aging is available for free download at:

The Conversation Project, an initiative begun in 2010 by noted columnist Ellen Goodman and a group of her colleagues, concerned media, clergy, and medical professionals, all dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. Resources include the Conversation Starter Kit at:

The Go Wish Game, a card game for sorting out values related to end-of-life decision-making, created by the Coda Alliance, a community organization in Santa Clara County, California. An easy, entertaining way to think and talk about what’s important to you if you become seriously ill. Available for purchase at:

PREPARE web site. This free web site is designed to help people and their loved ones prepare for medical decision making by guiding the user through five easily understandable steps of preparation for decision-making with the help of multiple video aids. The result is a printable action plan. Available at:

Advance Care Planning: Tips from the National Institute on Aging. This tip sheet describes advance care planning and offers some questions to get the process going. It also describes ways to share your wishes with others. Available at:

Helping You Draft an Advance Directive

Five Wishes. Published by Aging with Dignity. This nationally used, popular advance directive and guide lets your family and doctors know:
Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them.

  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
  • How comfortable you want to be.
  • How you want people to treat you.
  • What you want your loved ones to know.

Available for purchase/download at:

Caring Conversations Workbook, published by the Center for Practical Bioethics, is both a workbook and advance directive. It can be downloaded for free from their web site:

Thinking Ahead: My Way, My Choice, My Life at the End. This workbook and video were created by California advocates with developmental disabilities. However, it is a good tool for anyone who wants a simple, easy-to-follow workbook. Available for free at:

A Guide to Living Wills and Health Care Proxies, by Harvard Medical School (for purchase): MyDirectives is a free web-based service that walks you through the process of creating an “advance digital directive” which can be electronically signed. The directive is encrypted and stored in their secure database, available to you and your medical treatment providers 24/7. Available at:

Helping Health Care Agents Do Their Job Well

Making Decisions for Someone Else: A How-To Guide, published by the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, this guide is for anyone serving in the role of health care decision maker for someone else:

Advance Directive Forms

Giving Someone a Power of Attorney for Your Health Care: A Guide with an Easy-to-Use, Multi-State Form for All Adults
Prepared by the ABA Commission on Law and Aging (2011), available at: This form works in all but the five states listed below. The link next to each state takes you to a form acceptable in those states:

Links to state-specific Advance Directive forms for all states:

Advance Directive Registries

Personal Smartphone App
My Health Care Wishes is a smartphone app that enables individuals and their family members to store their own and each other’s health care advance directives and key health contacts and related information on their Apple or Android smartphones, and to send documents instantly and directly to health care providers by email or Bluetooth. Go to

Online or Cloud-based registries
Your state may sponsor a registry to enable providers to have access to your advance directive 24/7. Plus, there are several national registries such as the following:

General End-of-Life Care Resources

Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness
(2nd Ed., Oxford Univ. Press, 2011) by Joanne Lynn, Joan Harrold, and Janice Lynch Schuster. A comprehensive and readable 320-page guide to dealing with serious, eventually fatal illness.

Hard Choices for Loving People: CPR, Artificial Feeding, Comfort Measures Only and the Elderly Patient
by Hank Dunn. A&A Publishers, Inc. Web site: A concise and helpful 80-page booklet on end-of-life decisions concerning resuscitation, food and fluids, hospitalization, and cure versus comfort care.

National Health Decisions Day
Held April 16 of each year, you can learn more about NHDD at: