Health Care Directive
In addition to making a plan that directs what you want done with your body after you die, it's important to make known to your family and loved ones what medical care and treatment you do or do not want when you are unable - or choose not to - make them yourself. In Minnesota, this is called a Health Care Directive.
NOTE: A health care directive is sometimes called an advance directive, a living will, or a power of attorney for health care.
What Is It, and How Does It Work?
A Health Care Directive is a written legal document in which you name someone (called an agent) to make health care decisions for you when you
1) are unable to make them yourself, or
2) choose not to make them yourself.
A health care directive states your choices regarding life-prolonging treatments such as feeding, respiratory support and resuscitation. It may include statements about what makes life worth living or beliefs about when life would no longer be worth living. It may include preferences about specific treatment choices regarding care and comfort measures.
We can't overstate the importance of everyone having a Health Care Directive. While it's usually thought of as a legal document to guide end of life care, a Health Care Directive - in which you name someone to make health care decisions for you when you can't - is equally important for anyone, at any age, who might need to undergo surgery or other medical procedure from which recovery is normally expected, or anyone who might be injured in an accident or as a result of violence. "Anyone who might" means all of us.
Have a Conversation
Health care professionals advise that as you begin the process of completing a health care directive, it's best to begin by having conversations with your health care provider, members of your family and your social network, and with the person you will designate as your agent to make decisions for you when you can't.
Health Care Directive Resources
There are many online resources to help you through the process of filling out a health care directive and making it a legal document. But with so many resources to choose from, it's easy to be overwhelmed and easier still to put off the task.
Below is a link to the most comprehensive local resource we know of. It's called Honoring Choices, an effort of the Twin Cities Medical Society to encourage families and communities to have discussions about end-of-life choices. We believe Honoring Choices will help you through most of the questions you have and the difficult choices you will need to make in filling out a Health Care Directive.
▪ Link to the Honoring Choices website HERE.
▪ Link to the Honoring Choices website Resources page HERE.
▪ Link to the Honoring Choices Heath Care Directive form HERE. The form is available in 5 languages as a PDF file or as a fillable Microsoft Doc.
▪ Preview the Honoring Choices Health Care Directive form in English below.
▪ The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH ) has developed Questions and Answers about Health Care Directives. Check them out HERE.