All states have laws that allow us to make future health care treatment decisions now so that if we become incapacitated and unable to make these decisions later, our family and doctors will know what medical care we want or do not want. State laws also allow us to appoint a representative to make future health care treatment decisions for us if we become incapacitated, since we cannot predict what future decisions might be necessary. These laws are called “advance directives” or “health care directives.” Because these laws are somewhat different from state to state, the federal Medicare/Medicaid agency suggests that citizens contact the state’s Attorney General’s Office about the laws of that state. The Life Care Planning program developed by the Office of the Attorney General follows Arizona law as to “health care directives.”
Most people communicate their health care directives by completing forms, such as the Life Care Planning forms, that are tailored to prompt decisions about treatment choices that might be needed. Before you complete these or other health care forms, you should learn and think about what medical treatments you want and/or do not want in the future. Discuss your choices with your family, loved ones, physician, clergyperson, etc. Also consider who you want to appoint to make treatment decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Although you cannot anticipate all the medical situations that might arise, you can give guidance to your decision-maker, doctor, and family as to your values and choices, so they can respect your wishes if a time comes when you cannot make or express decisions for yourself.
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