We encourage everyone, at any age, to identify a person who will advocate your healthcare wishes if you are unable to. If you are in an
accident or have an unexpected illness that leaves you unable to talk about your wishes, who will speak for you?
Understanding Advance Care Planning
Every adult has the right to decide what type of medical care is best for them. Planning your care ahead of time allows others to honor your choices even if you are unable to speak for yourself at any time. Advance care planning (ACP) lets you choose someone to be your patient advocate. This person accepts the role of making sure your health care wishes are followed as you have discussed.
What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance care planning is a process that helps you understand and talk through your health care choices with others who are important to you. A good plan starts with having meaningful discussions with loved ones and defining what quality of life means to you. When your loved ones know what is important to you in order to live well, they can speak for you with confidence, avoiding guilt and doubt, pain and family conflict. This is truly a gift to those who love and want what’s best for you.
What is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a document that allows you to give specific written instructions for your future medical treatment preferences and define what “living well” means to you. This also includes a section where you can designate a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a person who will be guiding your care according to your advance directive if you are unable to speak for yourself.
How to Get Started
If you feel like you are ready to begin the conversation on advance care planning, below are tips to get started:
- Understand what’s important to you
Make a list of the three most important things you want those close to you to know about your wishes for end-of-life care.
- Designate a patient advocate
Consider who you want to make your medical care decisions if you could not speak for yourself and
set a time to talk to that person and others close to you about your wishes.
- Ask specific questions
Make a list of detailed questions about treatments or terms you’d like to discuss with your medical provider.
- Attend a community session or one-on-one facilitated meeting
Consider requesting a group conversation session or schedule an advance care planning conversation with a facilitator.
- Keep your wishes updated
If you already have an advance directive, review it to make sure it fits with your current wishes.
What is a Facilitator?
Facilitators are people who are trained to help you identify what is important to you, help you make decisions about your future health care wishes, and help you put your plan in writing. They are skilled to help you clarify your personal values, beliefs and preferences for end of life care. During a facilitated conversation, each meeting moves at your own pace, and there is no pressure to influence your treatment preferences.
How to Set Up a Facilitated Conversation
Julie Griffin, Advance Care Planning
Coordinator at (269) 983-8166