Where can you get a free advance health care directive completed during this period of shelter-in-place/social distancing?
Contra Costa Senior Legal Services has provided many seniors with advance health care directives in the past. During this period of social distancing, an attorney is able to guide you and complete an advance health care directive over the phone or computer. This service is provided free of charge for any senior 60 years or older in Contra Costa County.
What is an Advance Health Care Directive?
• It is a legal document that allows you to appoint an agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself;
• It also allows you to specify the medical treatment you want (and do not want) to guide your agent and health care providers in the future.
• You may designate post-mortem decisions, such as donation of body parts.
Why is an Advance Health Care Directive especially important now?
Every senior should have an advance health care directive. The best time to complete an advance health care directive is before you get sick. Due to COVID-19, many seniors are at risk to becoming infected with this virus. Some people will get better on their own, while others will require more extensive medical care where they might be unable to make decisions for themselves. An advance health care directive can give you the peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out in case of severe illness.
What can you do now to prepare for completing an advance health care directive?
• There is an organization called the Conversation Project which focuses on how people can express their end-of-life wishes. They have put out a kit that guides you through a discussion of deciding what you want if you are unable to make decisions due to illness. You may access this kit at: https://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-ConvoStarterKit-English.pdf
• You do not need to have an agent make decisions for you in order to complete an advance health care directive. However, it is preferable for you to choose one or more agents. A resource that gives you more information on agents is: https://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/ConversationProject-ProxyKit-Agent-English.pdf