Advance Care Planning: Make Your Wishes Known
Posted on November 5, 2018
Tis the season for family get-togethers, and a good time to start the conversation about advance care planning while family and friends are gathered.
Advance care planning gives you the opportunity to make decisions about what care you would or would not want if you become unable to speak for yourself. These discussions can be difficult, whether for yourself, your partner or a parent. Having the conversation early, in a non-urgent setting, may make it easier.
If you haven’t yet begun the conversation with family and caregivers, we hope the following information will be useful in initiating the discussion.
What are advance directives?
Advance directives are legal documents that outline, ahead of time, your decisions for end-of-life care and medical treatment. Advance directives are made to ensure that your wishes are carried out if you are ever unable to communicate with your health care providers.
There are two types of directives:
- One is a Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, in which you authorize someone, the “proxy” or “agent” (often a family member), to make decisions on your behalf if you were to become incapacitated. The health care proxy can be completed in your doctor’s office.
- Another type of directive is a form that gives instructions for treatment. An example of this is a Living Will, which usually states in general terms what treatments a person does or does not want. Other documents that specifically address problems and needs that might arise include The Five Wishes and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders.
Completing advance directives
Advance directives can be documented by your primary care provider (PCP) or attorney, or you can print forms and complete them with your family or caregivers. Once your advance directives are completed, schedule an appointment with your PCP or bring copies with you to your well-care visit
or physical exam. Also, give a copy to your designated health care proxy, and keep a copy for yourself in a place easy for others to find. You can change your mind about your advance directives at any time by completing new forms with different instructions.
Below is a list of helpful websites for information about advance care planning.