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Great Family:Advance Directive

Great Family: Advance Directive
What do you think is the most important wish list you’ll ever write in your lifetime? The answer is your advance directive, which is a legal form that documents your health care preferences in the unfortunate circumstance that you face a serious illness or accident. The form represents your health care wishes when you are not able to speak for yourself, and it will help your doctor, family, and friends be able to take care of you based on your own wishes and beliefs.

I am still so young. Why do I need it?
It is a misconception that advance directives are just for older adults. In this world, unexpected end-of-life accidents can happen at any time; they can happen to anybody at any age. So it is very important to think about having an advance directive when you are still healthy and have the capacity to make your own health care decisions. It is one of the best choices that you can make for your family.

How can I have my advance directive legalized?
Think about your health care wishes, then talk to your family and determine your health care preferences. After completing and signing the advance directive, you will need to have your signature verified in one of the following ways: 1) Signed by two witnesses age 18 or older, who are not your relative or health care provider; or 2) signed by a notary public; or 3) Certified by an attorney. Copies of the signed advance directive should be shared with your health care agent and your doctor. A health care agent is someone appointed by you to make decisions on your behalf when you are too sick to do so.

Where can I get more information about an advance directive?
In order to educate our community about the benefits of having advance health care directives, Dr. Angela Sun, Public Health Specialist, Executive Director of Chinese Community Health Resource Center (CCHRC) shared that CCHRC is working in partnership with Chinatown YMCA and California HealthCare Foundation to provide in-person, educational seminars on “Understanding your Health Care Rights” in Chinese for community members to attend free of charge. A series of two seminars will be offered every three months and seminars will be scheduled two weeks apart to allow time for participants to speak with their health care proxy and families about their healthcare wishes. A health educator will guide participants through each section of the Advance Health Care Directive form and serve along with other program staff/volunteers as witnesses to legalize the completed form. An attorney will be present during the second seminar to answer questions and provide advice.

Who should I contact if I have questions about these seminars?
Please contact Chinese Community Health Resource Center at 415-677-2473.

Take the opportunity to plan your medical options early and minimize the burden on your loved ones when they need to make critical decisions for you while under pressure and/or emotional stress.


Great Family is a multi-media initiative which highlights family related health and social issues affecting the Asian-American community. Each month, a Great Family tip is delivered via 30-second broadcast vignettes featuring experts in the fields of medicine, nutrition, education, business, etc. The complete, long form version of each expert interview is made available for streaming on greatfamily.ktsf.com and is broadcast on the last Sunday of each month at 10:30pm on KTSF-TV.