ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE
An AHCD ensures that a resident’s wishes are known, and allows the resident to have maximum control over future medical decisions by expressing wishes about medical care and by selecting an agent to make medical decisions immediately or in the event the resident becomes incapacitated. California Probate Code section 4609 defines capacity as an individual’s ability to understand the nature and consequences of a decision, to make and communicate the decision, and in the case of proposed health care, to understand its significant benefits, risks, and alternatives.
A living will is one form of advance directive, leaving instructions for treatment. Another form is a specific type of power of attorney or health care proxy, in which the person authorizes someone (an agent) to make decisions on their behalf when they are incapacitated. People are often encouraged to complete both documents to provide comprehensive guidance regarding their care, although they may be combined into a single form.