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Respecting Choices®

We want you to make your choices so we can respect them.

You make choices on a daily basis–choices about where you want to live, whom you want to marry, your career, your home, your life.

Perhaps one of the most important choices facing you is your choice for future medical care. Who decides when enough is enough? You do, or at least you should. You should decide about the kind of care you want while you are capable of making your own decisions. It is important to talk about your decisions with your physicians, other health professionals and those close to you. You may also put your plans for future medical care in writing, in case you become unable to or choose not to make your own decisions.

Resources you can download:

  1. Advance Directive For Healthcare (Printable PDF)
  2. Advance Care Planning Booklet (Printable PDF)

Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning involves talking with your loved ones about what you desire if you become seriously ill.  It is important to have an advance care planning conversation with your loved ones, so they will know what medical care you desire, especially if you are unable to speak for yourself.  The purpose of advance care planning is to make sure your family and doctors know your wishes and opinions, so those decisions are not left for someone who does not know you.

This is a process of coming to understand, reflect on, discuss and plan for a time when you cannot or choose not to make your own medical decisions. Regardless of your age, wealth or health, documenting your choices today means your loved ones won't have to make difficult decisions later concerning things like:

  • Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can't make them.
  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don't want.
  • How comfortable you want to be.
  • How you want people to treat you.
  • What you want your loved ones to know.

Effective Planning

Effective planning is the best way to make sure your views are respected by your loved ones and healthcare providers. This process also will provide great comfort to those who may make future healthcare decisions for you.

Start Planning Now

This process may only take a short period of time or it may take many months. What is most important is that you begin now and take the time you need to understand, reflect, discuss, and make a plan that will work best for you and those closest to you.

Commonly Asked Questions

Who do I talk to?

Talk to those who are close to you and most likely to be involved in healthcare decision making for you. Just because you have a close relationship with someone does not necessarily mean they know what you think or want for future medical care.  These conversations will help your loved ones know your choices and will help you determine who could best serve as your healthcare agent. 

What would I talk about?

Who would make decisions for you and how they would make these decisions? Make sure whomever you choose to represent you not only knows what you want but is able to make complex decisions in difficult situations.

Consider what your goals for medical treatment would be if you had a permanent and severe brain injury.  People often say, “Don’t keep me alive if I am a vegetable.” However, this is the time to clarify with your loved ones what that means to you and what type of healthcare you would want to receive in that situation.

Do I need to talk with my physician?

When possible, it is important for you to talk with your physician to make sure your wishes are clear, complete, and will be understood by your healthcare providers.

Can I get help completing my advance directive?

Yes! If you would like help, our certified advance care planning facilitators are here to walk through this process with you. To contact our team, please complete our form.

What if you choose not to have an advance directive?

Without an advance directive, your family would be consulted in decisions regarding your healthcare should you become unable or choose not to.

Advance Directives for Health Care (ADHC)

When is an advance directive used?

An advance directive is activated when you are unable or choose not to make your healthcare decisions.

Can my advance directive be changed?

Yes, your advance directive documents can be changed at any time, as long as you are capable of making decisions. When you sign an ADHC, you are responsible for giving it to your healthcare providers to become a part of your medical record.

What if I am injured or become ill when I am away from home?

The best way to ensure that you receive the type of care you want is to discuss your choices with your healthcare agent and make sure they have a copy of your ADHC. A wallet card, indicating you have an advance directive and naming your healthcare agent, is also available, but does not replace the ADHC.

What happens in an emergency?

In the event of an emergency, life-sustaining measures may be started, possibly before your medical record is available. Treatment can be stopped if it is discovered that it is not what you would have wanted.

Do I have to have a lawyer to complete an advance directive?

No, the law does not require an attorney to complete an advance directive. You can complete an advance directive on your own. If you need help doing so, we can help. Our program has certified advance planning facilitators. To be a legal document in Georgia, the ADHC must be witnessed by two people who are not your agent, not an heir or beneficiary of yours, and not directly involved in your healthcare. Only one of the witnesses can be an employee, agent or on the medical staff of the facility where you are receiving healthcare.

Conflicting Views

If a physician has a concern about respecting your choices, you or those representing you may consider transferring care to another physician or requesting consultation with the Ethics Committee. If your physician feels that they cannot follow your directions in your ADHC or your healthcare agent’s directions, they are required by Georgia law to help you find a different physician. 

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