Writing an Advance Care Directive
As part of the Advance Care Planning process, you may decide to write an Advance Care Directive. An Advance Care Directive records your specific wishes about treatment that you would like to have in the event of life-threatening illness or injury, and any treatments you would refuse.
There is no specific form to use for an Advance Care Directive. Go to the “Additional Resources and Further Information” page for some examples of Advance Care Directive forms. You can use any of these examples, or simply write a letter or statement about your wishes. It is a good idea to discuss your wishes and treatment options with your treating doctor.
Your treating doctor will consider your Advance Care Directive to be valid if:
- You had capacity when you wrote it
- It has specific details about treatments that you would accept or refuse
- It is current (it was not written a long time ago and you have not changed your mind since writing it)
- You were not influenced or pressured by anyone else when you wrote it
Doctors and health care professionals will only refer to your Advance Care Directive if you are unable to make your own decisions.
You should keep your Advance Care Directive in a place that is easily accessible for you or for others to obtain if needed. Keeping a copy close to you (such as in your wallet) is sometimes suggested. You should also give a copy of your Advance Care Directive to your Person Responsible, doctor, health care facility, family members or other important people in your life. Remember to give updated copies to these people whenever you change your Advance Care Directive.
Changing your Advance Care Directive
You can update or re-write you Advance Care Directive whenever you like. It is a good idea to read over anything you have written once a year to make sure it is still current. You may also change your Advance Care Directive if you health needs or life circumstances change. Make sure you sign and date your directive when you have reviewed it so health professionals know that is current.
Remember to give updated copies to your Person Responsible, doctor, health care facility, family members or other important people in your life whenever you review your Advance Care Directive.
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