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Advance Health Care Directive

Dear Advocate,

I am placing my father in a nursing home. I already handle all of his affairs, but the nursing home is requiring me to sign a durable power of attorney for healthcare for him. Can they do this?

Annoyed in Anaheim

Dear Annoyed,

The nursing home cannot force you or your father to sign a durable power of attorney for healthcare or any advanced directive. However, if your father is mentally competent, he should consider executing a durable power of attorney for healthcare, which in California is now called an Advance Health Care Directive. An Advance Health Care Directive allows your father to appoint someone to make health care decisions in case he becomes mentally incompetent. It can also clarify his wishes regarding life-sustaining treatments in situations where he can no longer make his own decisions, such as a coma or terminal illness. Executing an Advance Health Care Directive can really help avoid future headaches.

To obtain an Advance Health Care Directive, contact the California Medical Association at (916) 444-5532, or visit their website at: