The Importance of an Advanced Health Care Directive

Acclaimed author and Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez shares the story of helping his mother and sister care for his aging and ill father. The senior Mr. Lopez underwent quadruple bypass surgery and suffered several mini-strokes The experience led Steve to pen candid columns about his father's suffering and the challenges presented by a healthcare system often ill prepared for a patient's end of life journey. Steve also investigated the the high cost of dying in America, the growing field of palliative care and the obstacles to dying with dignity that persist. One key discovery was the importance of having one's end of life wishes clearly documented in an Advanced Health Care Directive.

Download a copy of the Advanced Health Care Directive form
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Steve's suggestion that we need to be specific in spelling out our Health Care Directive is spot on. I am going to review my mother's AHCD with her, to ensure it really captures specifically what she wants.

My only quibble in Steve's remarks were about the bathroom. As uncomfortable as it was, initially, for my mother, myself and her other caregiver's, she has gotten used to the fact that she sometimes needs help in that area. There are things that may seem very distasteful, now, but it's surprising how easily we can adjust. It's a nuisance, but really isn't a major detractor to Mom's quality of life.


Thanks for your comment Wayne. Caregiving brings many challenges but keeping a focus on providing the best quality of life for our loved one helps us overcome. I also recommend watching Algerine Correia's story "Surviving Caregiving" on episode two, "Caregivers DOing It All."

MetLife Foundation The Lippey Family Trust Gladyce L. Foster
California Community Foundation