Let loved ones know what to do if you’re unable to make health care choices

Mar 27, 2019

Although it isn’t always easy, it’s important to have conversations about what you value most in life and how you want to handle certain matters during specific health or medical situations. In Life Care Planning, you will choose someone to represent your health care wishes if there’s a time in the future when you can’t speak, and you will also decide what you want that person to say.

Life Care Planning
Life Care Planning is Kaiser Permanente’s name for a process that is also known as advance care planning. It involves making two major choices:

  1. Selecting someone you trust to make your health care decisions if you are incapable
  2. Giving specific instructions about your health care in the event of a sudden injury or illness

These are very important decisions, so it is best to make them after carefully considering your values, beliefs, and experiences. Putting your plan in writing helps those caring for you to accurately remember your wishes so you get the care that you want. One way you can document your wishes is by completing an Advance Health Care Directive.

Advance Health Care Directive
An Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) is a legal document that lets you do the following:

  • Designate a health care agent: a person who can voice your health care choices in the event you cannot communicate. This is also known as “durable power of attorney for health care” or “medical durable power of attorney.”
  • Provide instructions about your medical care in situations in which you are unable to make your own decisions
  • Express your values, hopes, and priorities

The documents and processes for making your Life Care Plan vary by state, and Kaiser Permanente can provide you with the basic resources to help you legally make your life care plan in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. To download AHCD forms, click here.

Please make sure that any legal document you complete is shared with both your health care agent and Kaiser Permanente.

Keep your life care plan updated
You can change your life plan at any time to reflect changes in your decisions. In fact, there are five life events or circumstances that we recommend using as triggers for you to go back to your AHCD to see if you would like to make any changes.

  • Decade — When you hit 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90+.
  • Divorce — Maybe your agent has changed. But if you wish to have your current partner serve as your agent even if you divorce, be sure to mark that option on your AHCD.
  • Diagnosis — Finding out you have a new or worsening health condition.
  • Decline in health — Maybe you have a health condition that is fairly well-managed, but over time you aren’t able to be as independent as you once were.
  • Death — The death of a significant person in your life may cause you to have a different or new value that you want reflected in your own advance care plan and AHCD, or you may need to designate a new agent.

As your life changes, your goals, wishes, and needs for Life Care Planning may change as well. To learn more about Life Care Planning, click here. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

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