Support during the process

Writing an Advance Directive involves a lot of decision making.  It can include thinking about upsetting health care situations.  You can help a loved one by being available to talk if they want to think out loud or get your perspective.

There are several ways that you can support someone who is making an Advance Directive:

Advance Directives and Loved Ones


As an agent

If you are chosen to be your loved one’s agent, then you should learn about what your role is.  You should talk with the person about the person’s values and preferences.  You may want to read through the AD with the person to make sure that you are clear on what they want.

Because ADs are legal documents, there are parts that you must follow.  (For example, medication refusals, end-of-life instructions and visitation instructions must be followed.)  Other parts you should look at to help figure out how the person would decide if the person was currently able to make decisions.

Agents are allowed to quit.  If you do not feel able to be the agent, you can walk away because the law does not want to force anyone to make such important decisions if they do not feel able.  If you decide that while the person is well, be sure to them as soon as possible.

Making the AD available during a crisis

An AD cannot help if no one has a copy handy.  Unlike other legal documents, ADs work best when they are shared instead of locked away.  If your loved one gave you a copy of their AD, then you can help by bringing a copy to health care providers.  Or, if your loved one put their AD into an online registry, you can tell the providers where to go to find the  AD.