Advance Care Planning
What's your favorite thing to plan? A wedding, a surprise party, a dance performance?
There's so much to do!
You have to pick a location, schedule rehearsals, figure out an event theme, pick a DJ, get decorations...
Planning in advance gives you time to prepare and ensure the details match your expectations.
The same thoughtfulness, discussions and documentation of our priorities should be applied to our future medical care. We call this type of preparation Advance Care Planning (ACP).
As with event planning, there are experts, tools and website links to help us figure out our ACP preferences.
Think of it like this:
Where would you prefer to receive care: at home, a nursing facility or hospital?
These are the MANY changing conversations about your wishes, values and health care priorities over the years to come.
The theme is the focus of your care: will comfort be the priority, or living as long as possible at all costs? These are just two of many examples.
This is your master of ceremonies, your Proxy or Surrogate Decision-maker: the person who understands your wishes and will speak on your behalf.
Why is ACP important?
People who haven't engaged in high-quality advance care planning are often unprepared for difficult decision-making when their health takes a turn for the worse. This can be particularly challenging and burdensome for loved ones, if they find themselves in the position of trying to make high-stakes decisions for a seriously ill patient.
Once I've figured out my Advance Care Planning wishes, what should I do next?
Document your wishes in an Advance Directive For Healthcare. You can use a resource like prepareforyourcare.org to create a really good Advance Directive document. Then share the document with your loved ones and the doctors who know you best. Talk to them about your healthcare preferences and what would be most important to you if your health took a turn for the worse.
HELPFUL RESOURCES FOR CLARIFYING YOUR WISHES:
1. Humorous, informative and relatable video on "Clarifying and Communicating Your Health Care Priorities" with a Palliative Care Doctor, video above.
2. Prepare for Your Care is a step-by-step program with video stories that people find helpful when deciding how to document their preferences.
3. The Conversation Project is a public engagement initiative with a goal that is both simple and transformative: to help everyone talk about their wishes for care through the end of life, so those wishes can be understood and respected.
4. Go Wish Cards give you an easy, even entertaining way to talk about what is most important to you. The cards help you find the words to talk about what is important if you were to be living a life that may be shortened by serious illness.
These cards help to get the difficult conversations started. You can start by sharing your own wishes. It eases discomfort and creates a trusting atmosphere -- then they'll start working on their own wishes, (Offered in English and Spanish).
You never want to leave a loved one unprepared to make difficult medical decisions for you.
Let's make a plan today!