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Advance Directives

An advance directive (spanish version) is a legal document that helps ensure that your health care wishes will be respected if you become unable to speak or otherwise communicate.

In the absence of a written document, sometimes an advance directive may be an oral communication, where you express your wishes for care verbally to your family members or health care agent. An advance directive may become important if you are severely injured or develop a serious illness that prevents you from actively participating in decisions about your medical care.

Do not wait for your doctor to bring up the subject of an advance directive. To help yourself develop a clear idea of your wishes, think about the kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want in different situations. See the checklist for writing an advance directive to help guide you through some of the things you may want to consider.

There are Two Main Types of Advance Directives

A living will, also called a treatment directive, documents personal wishes about end-of-life medical treatment in case decision-making or communication abilities are lost.

A medical power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint someone, usually called a health care agent or health care proxy, to make medical treatment decisions for you not only at the end of life but any time you are unable to speak for yourself.

How Do I Write an Advance Directive

You can obtain a Kaiser Permanente advance health care directive at no cost in the Health Education Center at any Kaiser Permanente facility. This packet includes:

  • California advance health care directive legal form
  • Health care choices form
  • Introduction and instructions to walk you through each section of the form, and
    what to do with the form after you have filled it out
  • Information on the roles and responsibilities of the health care agent
  • A section on how to keep track of your advance health care directive

Advanced Health Care Directive Class

Advanced Health Care Directive Class, in this two-hour class, you’ll explore the legal forms and learn what to think about when delegating your health care decisions. You may bring a support person. This class is taught by a local attorney and a Kaiser Permanente clinical health educator. It is co-sponsored by Seniors at Home, a nonsectarian program of Jewish Family and Children’s Services.