As a surrogate consultant, people often ask me for advice on the best advance directive (AD) to cover their medical and end-of-life (EOL) wishes. Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. An AD is a “legally recognized” document usually containing a living will spelling out your preferences and treatment options when you cannot speak for yourself. It also includes the designation of a health care surrogate/proxy to follow your wishes. …
Post Author: Althea Halchuck, EJD
Althea Halchuck is a patient advocate and founder, Ending Well! Patient Advocacy. She focuses on end-of-life care and planning, aiming to help people have a “good death,” and can be reached at the Final Exit Network and on LinkedIn.
She earned an executive juris doctor in health law in 2012 and has been a practicing mediator for 18 years. A bedside hospice volunteer for 16 years, she’s been a certified thanatologist since 2015 and an end-of-life doula and death educator. She earned facilitation certificates in advance care planning from Respecting Choices.
Althea has clinical ethics training and served three years on Kaiser Permanente’s bioethics committee in Harbor City, CA. In 2021 she became Final Exit Network’s surrogate consultant, where she counsels health care surrogates and medical staff on thorny advance directive issues.
She is available to present “Who will Speak for You?” on choosing an effective surrogate and “Becoming the Peacemaker: Strategies for Conflict Resolution in Clinical Settings.”
It never ceases to amaze me that some people do not realize they have the absolute right to make their own health care choices even if everyone else thinks it’s the wrong choice. Once they recognize that every medical option is theirs to accept or reject, the effect can be liberating.
In the Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990 Act, this right to choose is outlined, including the right to refuse treatment, …
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