Completing an advance care directive is a significant step in ensuring your healthcare wishes are honored if you cannot communicate them yourself. However, proactive steps are required to ensure your wishes are known and respected. Here are the essential next steps to take after completing your advance care directive.

If you don’t have an advance care directive and don’t know where to start, you aren’t alone. This article provides easy steps and free resources to help you get started.

Share Your Documents

Make sure that your advance care directive is not just filed away but accessible to those who need it. Provide copies to:

– Your designated healthcare surrogate or power of attorney

– Family members and close friends who might be involved in your care

– Your primary care physician and any specialists you see regularly

– Your local hospital, to be included in your medical records

Discuss Your Wishes

Having a signed document is vital, but so is making sure your loved ones and healthcare providers understand your wishes. Arrange a time to discuss the contents of your advance care directive with these important people.

If starting a conversation is difficult, we recommend this guide from The Conversation Project.

– Your designated healthcare surrogate

– Close family members and friends

– Your doctors, ensuring they understand and respect your choices

Review and Update Regularly

Your health, personal circumstances, and medical preferences may change over time. Set a reminder to review your advance care directive periodically, especially if you:

– Receive a new diagnosis

– Experience a significant change in your health

– Have a change in your family situation, such as marriage, divorce, or the death of a surrogate

– Have a change in other trusted relationships

– Simply change your mind about your healthcare preferences

Understand Your Document’s Scope

Ensure you and your surrogate fully understand what your advance care directive covers and any limitations it may have. For example, know the difference between a living will and other forms, such as the MOST form, which can offer more specific directives regarding medical treatments.

We’ve covered all these topics with a focus on Kentucky residents in this article.

Still haven’t started your advance care planning? You’re not alone. Find clear, easy steps here.

Prepare for Emergencies

In an emergency, your advance care directive should be easily accessible. Consider carrying a card in your wallet that indicates you have an advance care directive and includes the name and contact information of your healthcare surrogate.

Legal Considerations

Ensure your advance care directive complies with state laws. If you move to a new state, review your document to ensure it meets the new state’s legal requirements. Websites like Caring Info can provide state-specific information.

Completing your advance care directive is a crucial step in safeguarding your healthcare preferences. However, to ensure your wishes are understood and honored, share, discuss, review, and update your directives regularly. Taking these steps ensures that your advance care planning efforts effectively guide your care in the future, providing security and peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.

This document is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal or healthcare advice. You may wish to consult an attorney or a healthcare provider for guidance on advance care planning.

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