What you need to know about advance care directives and POLST forms

February 28, 2022
advance care directives and POLST forms

People who plan for end-of-life care are more likely to get the medical treatment they want and have loved ones who experience less stress and anxiety. Preparing an advance care directive and a Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is the best way to make sure your wishes are fulfilled should you become incapacitated.

What is an advance care directive?

An advance care directive allows you to appoint someone to act as your healthcare agent for medical decisions and speak on your behalf if you are unable to, due to illness or injury. In California, the form has three parts, and it incorporates a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Living Will information. A Durable Power of Attorney lets you name a person as your agent to make decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so..”

What is a POLST form?

A POLST form contains the actual orders that your doctor has written (after discussions with you) to assure you get the care you want. A doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner must sign the POLST form for it to be valid. POLST forms do vary by state. Visit the POLST website for more information. If you live in Monterey County (or anywhere in California), check out the California POLST website.

Why is filling out a POLST form important?

There are many reasons why filling out a POLST form is important. First, the current standard of care is to do everything possible to attempt to save a life. POLST provides the option to state what level of treatment you want. In the event of an emergency, first responders will look for your POLST when they arrive. Its’s recommended that you have it in an obvious, visible place in your home. The POLST allows emergency medical personnel to make the care decisions you want.

Can I change my advance directive or POLST form?

You can always change or cancel your advance directive or POLST at any time, as long as you can communicate your wishes. Having your wishes known can be a great relief to you and your loved ones. It’s a good idea to review your advance care documents periodically – at least annually around the time of your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV). Your health status could change, and you want to make sure that your documents reflect your current preferences.

Are there local resources available to help with advance care directives and POLST forms?

There are plenty of great resources available to you here in Monterey County to help with advance care directives and POLST forms:

We hope that this information on advance care directives and POLST forms is helpful for you when it comes to advance care planning. Aspire Health Medicare Advantage plan members can always contact Member Services if you have any questions or would like to be connected with resources that can help with advance care planning.

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