What if a sudden illness or injury left you unable to make your own medical decisions? Who do you want to make those decisions for you? Do they know your values, goals and wishes?
Having an advance directive will help guide your loved ones to the care you want. It will also ease some of the burden of making difficult health care decisions for you.
Advance care planning workshop
Honoring Choices® is a no-cost, online workshop that will help you and your family with advance care planning. The goal is to help you think about and share your wishes for medical care if you can’t speak for yourself.
During this one-hour workshop, we’ll cover everything you need to know to fill out an advance directive. You’ll also have the chance to share your thoughts, hear from others and ask questions. Family members are welcome and encouraged to come.
Please join us for this online event. You can take part from the comfort and safety of your home or office using your computer or smartphone. If you prefer, you can also join by phone.
Commonly asked questions
You don’t need to have any answers at the beginning. Just start by thinking about what you would and wouldn't want if you couldn’t speak for yourself. Then share your thoughts with the important people in your life.
When you’re ready, you can choose a health care agent — someone to make health care decisions for you if you can’t. Also, you can add to and think about your decisions over time. And if you want to change any of them, you can.OR
Advance care planning is for everyone. Car accidents, crises and sudden illnesses can happen to anyone at any time. Every adult should have an advance care plan.OR
No. Anyone can fill out an advance directive. And you can have conversations about your health care wishes whenever and wherever it's right for you.OR
Yes. You can review and change your plan anytime. Remember that your plan only takes effect if you can’t speak for yourself. Until then, you’ll make all decisions for yourself.OR
Doctors usually honor an advance directive across state lines. But if you move, it’s a good idea to create a document in your new home state.OR
A health care agent is someone you choose to make health care decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. In Washington, the agent must act in “good faith.” This means the agent makes decisions that you would want or that are in your best interest.OR
Many people have clear ideas about the medical care they want if they develop Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia (a condition that affects your memory, thinking and social abilities).
Standard advance directives don’t usually cover dementia. But dementia is the leading reason people lose the ability to guide their own care. Learn more at dementia-directive.org, where you can also download an advance directive for dementia at no cost.
Once signs of cognitive impairment (a problem that makes it hard to think clearly) appear, it can be hard for someone to fill out a dementia directive. That’s why it’s best to fill one out before dementia develops. This is especially important for people over age 60.
If you fill out the directive before age 60, make a reminder to review it when you get into your 60s or 70s. That way, if your situation or health care wishes have changed, you can fill out a new form that reflects those wishes.OR
A POLST form is meant for seriously ill people or those who are in very poor health, regardless of age.
POLST stands for Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. The POLST form is a set of medical orders that state your preferences for care at the end of life — for example, choosing not to get CPR if you don’t have a pulse or are not breathing.
A POLST form:
- Is not an advance care directive
- Does not replace naming a health care agent
- Does not replace having a durable power of attorney for health care (a document that lets you name someone to make decisions about your health care if you can’t make them for yourself)
You can find information and resources about advance care planning on these websites:
- Honoring Choices® Pacific Northwest is a shared effort between the Washington State Hospital Association and Washington State Medical Association. It focuses on helping people make choices about end-of-life care.
- Washington State Medical Association has tools and resources to help patients and their doctors have conversations about future medical care.
- The Conversation Project focuses on helping people talk about their wishes for care through the end of life. The goal is to help make sure that those wishes are understood and respected.
- PREPARE™ for your care is a five-step program. It includes videos and other tools that will help you think through your medical wishes and put them in writing.