Sharing Your Wishes

Click HERE to watch a short Idaho Quality of Life Coalition video about Advance Planning.  Click HERE to watch an in-depth video on Advance Planning presented by Idaho elder law attorney Peter Sisson.

Taking Control of Your Life: Advance Care Planning in Idaho

When you share your wishes for care at the end of life with loved ones and formalize them in an advance directive, you become part of a growing number of people who have decided to take control of this important time of their life. When you complete an advance directive, you tell everyone that your wishes for care at the end of life should be followed and your decisions honored. It is, in fact, your life. Your wishes matter!

Currently in Idaho there are three methods for expressing your wishes for care and treatment at the end of life. They are called advance directives and consist of the following:

1. Living will
2. Durable power of attorney for health care
3. Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST)

The Idaho legislature took action to address concern about the chaos and confusion that often occurs when wishes for care at the end of life are not known. Now you can make the right choice at the right time for care at the end of life. The choice is yours and the time is now. In Idaho it is possible for you to express your wishes now and have them recognized in the future. Then, in the event you are not able to communicate your wishes for medical treatment and end-of-life care, there will be documents in place that express your wishes and empower someone to speak for you (Idaho Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care).

The Idaho Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) is another important document. The POST provides a way to express your wishes about cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-sustaining treatment options. Your choice cannot be respected when no one knows what you want. The POST provides greater flexibility than the former Idaho Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order and Comfort One program. The one-page POST form is signed by your physician and therefore becomes a physician’s order for care and treatment.

A physician’s order must be followed by health care providers. The POST document goes with you and is recognized as valid in all settings. Nationally, most people know about advance directives, but only about one-third have taken steps to complete a living will and durable power of attorney for health care. The same is true in Idaho where the 2006 statewide end-of-life survey revealed more than 90 percent of Idaho respondents knew about advance directives. Unfortunately, only 35 percent had completed their living will, and 31 percent had completed their durable power of attorney for health care.

The good news is that in Idaho, unlike in most other states, people who complete their advance directive have access to the Idaho Health Care Directive Registry. There is no fee to place your advance directive in the registry, which is securely located in the Idaho Office of the Secretary of State. With your advance directive in the registry, you have access any time of day on any day of the week.

When you place your advance directive in the registry, you will receive a wallet-size card that makes it possible for health care providers to access your living will, durable power of attorney for health care, and/or POST electronically in a medical crisis. This can be done at any computer, in any medical facility, in any state, using the code and password from your registry wallet card. You can also access your own documents and print extra copies if you wish, using any computer that has Internet access.

Creating an Advance Directive in Seven Steps

  • Discuss different options for care at the end of life with your family and friends.
  • Decide what options best reflect how you think and feel about life and death and what is important to you.
  • Select a person to speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself.
  • Complete your advance directive (living will and durable power of attorney for health care, and/or POST). If you like, attach additional information about your values and personal wishes for end-of-life care to your living will and durable power of attorney for health care.
  • File the original copy of your advance directive in a safe place and provide copies to key people: your physician, your health care power of attorney, and a member of your family. Some faith communities and hospitals will keep a copy of your advance directives on file.
  • Register your advance directive in the Idaho Health Care Directive Registry located in the office of the Secretary of State. Carry your Idaho Health Care Directive Registry card next to your driver's license or identification card.
  • Review your advance directive every year. Update as needed. We believe more people will complete their advance directive when they learn how important it is to their future, what a gift it is to their loved ones, and how easy it is to make it happen.

If you have more questions contact Casey Corbin at (208) 841-1862.  Join the Idaho Quality of Life Coalition today!

Used with permission from the Idaho Office of Attorney General.