The Importance of Advance Care Planning

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The Importance of Advance Care Planning

You make decisions about your health every day, but do you have a plan of care ready in case of a serious illness or medical emergency? Here’s what you should know about advance care planning.


National Health Care Decisions Day is an occasion to educate individuals, families, communities, providers, organizations, and facilities about the importance of advance care planning.

Advance care planning is a process that requires ongoing discussion about healthcare decision making and a means to ensure that your goals, values, and wishes are honored when it comes to your health and your life.

Here are simple steps that you can take today:

·       Consider appointing a trusted person as a health care proxy who can make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make or voice decisions for yourself.

·       Once you have chosen a proxy (and possibly an alternate), discuss your decision with your trusted person, talk about what it means to be a proxy, and determine if that person is comfortable assuming that role.

·       Complete a health care proxy form which will require your signature and that of two witnesses (witnesses cannot be identified proxy). Once the proxy form is completed, keep the original, and provide your proxy and your health care providers with a copy.

If you are coping with a serious illness, here are additional steps that you can take today:

·       Begin a conversation today with your loved ones and providers about what is most important to you.

·       Explore what quality of life means to you. What are your goals if your health worsens? What does a good day look like to you? What are your worries about the future with your health? What are your sources of strength in challenging times?

·       Consider what life sustaining treatment options you would or wouldn’t want. Document your preferences with your health care team on a legal document such as a MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) or in more detail from a holistic view with the Five Wishes legal document. Keep the original and provide family, caregivers, and providers with copies.

The key to advance care planning is communication.


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