An Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) is a generic term for a document that instructs others about your medical care should you be unable to make decisions on your own. It only becomes effective under the circumstances dictated in the document, and allows you to do either or both of the following:
Appoint a health care agent (proxy): This type of advance health care directive is know as a "Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care" or "Health Care Proxy" and appoints a health care agent who will have the legal authority to make health care decisions for you if you are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself. The chosen proxy is usually a family member, spouse, close friend, or anyone else you feel will see that your wishes and expectations are met. In the event of your disability or incapacity resulting in your inability to make your own health care decisions, the person appointed as a proxy will have authority to make decisions regarding artificial nutrition and hydration and any other measures that prolong life.
Prepare instructions for health care: This type of advance health care directive is know as a "Living Will and outlines your wishes regarding life-sustaining medical treatment if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. A Living Will is comprised of your written instructions for your future health care in the event of any situation in which you can no longer speak for yourself.