Health Care Directives
Get Started with Advance Care Planning
Health Care Directives are written documents that allow you to express your wishes regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Having a Health Care Directive in place guides choices for doctors and caregivers and ensures that your wishes regarding your health care are carried out, even when you are unable to make your wishes known.
Health Care Directives are not just for older adults. Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it is important for all adults to prepare these documents. Health Care Directives are the best tool that you have to direct your medical care when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. By planning ahead and completing a Health Care Directive, you get the care that you want and relieve caregivers of making these decisions for you.
It is important to talk to your family members and other important people in your life about your Health Care Directive and your healthcare wishes. By reviewing your wishes with them, you will help ensure their clear understanding of your wishes, help reduce confusion or disagreements, and give your family members clarity and confidence that they are making the healthcare decisions you would want them to make.
Once you have completed a Health Care Directive you should be sure to:
- Keep the original in a safe place.
- Give a copy to your doctor or primary health care organization.
- Carry a wallet sized card that indicates you have a Health Care Directive and where a copy can be found.
Having a Health Care Directive is not required, though completing one and keeping it on file, will help to ensure your wishes are followed. If you find that your situation changes because of new information or a change in your health, these documents can be adjusted to meet your new wishes.
Honoring Choices Minnesota is a statewide health initiative developed to encourage people to make their health care choices known. A downloadable copy of the Honoring Choices Health Care Directive is available in several different languages on their website www.HonoringChoices.org.