Advance Directives

Overview of Advance Directives

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to state your personal healthcare decisions about end-of-life care in advance. This may not be a topic many of us think about or talk about, but it is definitely important for people of all ages to know about. While you cannot predict the future, you do have the power to make your healthcare choices heard and help your loved ones understand your values and preferences regarding your medical care.

An advance directive allows you to clearly communicate your personal healthcare wishes for times when you are unable to speak for yourself. As a legal document, it should be placed on file with your healthcare provider. Your advance directive provides information that will help your healthcare provider and loved ones know how to make decisions for you that match what matters most to you. This information can include:

  • Person(s) you want to make your healthcare decisions for you
  • Medical treatment you want or do not want
  • How comfortable you want to be kept
  • Instructions on life-sustaining treatments
  • Organ donation wishes

Starting an Advance Directive

While it may be hard to know when the “right time” to write an advance directive is, there is never a wrong time to start planning. This can be a conversation with your loved ones and healthcare provider or a personal thought process.

To get started, you may begin by learning more about “end-of-life” choices. It is helpful to inform yourself about the issues and the options prior to a discussion with your healthcare provider. Resources on hospice, long-term care options, and documentation needs unique to your state are available to help you, as well as those you care about and those who care about you, with advance care planning.

“I have an advance directive, not because I have a serious illness, but because I have a family” –Ira Byock, MD

How We Can Help

Advance directives are for all adults, including mature minors and emancipated minors. We never know when an accident or serious illness will leave us incapable of making our own health care decisions. As an adult, it is never too soon to give advance directives your serious consideration. Once you familiarize yourself with the issue, you will want to discuss it with your primary care provider (PCP). All registered UC Davis students have an assigned PCP at the Student Health and Wellness Center who can offer resources as well as guidance. If you have questions regarding advance directives, please discuss them with your PCP during your next visit with SHCS. You can schedule an appointment with your PCP by calling (530) 752-2349.

Resources

Download Your State's Advance Directive (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization)
Public Resources (National Healthcare Decisions Day)
End-of-Life Decision-Making (Family Caregiver Alliance)
5 Wishes Advance Directive Forms (pdf)
California Department of Social Services Advance Directive Forms (pdf)
Kaiser Permanente Advance Directive Forms (pdf)