Advance care planning helps your loved ones know which decisions you would make regarding your health if you become unable to communicate your wishes. If your health deteriorates, or you are in a tragic accident, it’s important that your healthcare providers as well as your friends and family are aware of your preferences for your health care. This is especially important when it comes to withdrawing or ceasing medical treatments towards the end of life.
Plan Your Care in Advance
Advance care planning allows you to make decisions based on your own personal values and input from your loved ones. Making a plan while you are able is the best way to ensure family, loved ones, and medical care providers are aware of your wishes.
Some elements of advanced care planning are:
- Choosing the type and length of treatments you are willing to receive if you have a debilitating illness or condition.
- Learning about the forms of life-sustaining medical treatments available to you.
- Talking about your values, beliefs, and preferences with those close to you, including doctors and loved ones.
Speak to Your Loved Ones about Your End-of-Life Wishes
While legal documentation is necessary, it is very important that you communicate clearly and lovingly with the people closest to you. If you have these conversations early on, your loved ones can feel relief and comfort knowing that the decisions they enforce are the ones you have chosen.
Though these conversations may be difficult, it is important to have them. They will save your loved ones a great deal of stress, and they will give your family and friends comfort knowing that they are making the choices you would have wanted them to make.
Arrange Your Legal Documentation
In addition to communicating with your loved ones, you also need to make legal arrangements for your end-of-life care. An “Advance Directive” applies to two different legal documents: a “Living Will” and “Medical Power of Attorney.”
A Living Will is a document wherein you specify which medical treatments you are willing to receive, and which medical treatments you do not wish to undergo in the case of a life-limiting illness or an otherwise incapacitating medical condition.
A Medical Power of Attorney lets you authorize a person to make decisions about your medical treatment on your behalf, should you become unable to do so yourself. This person will have full information about your health and treatment plans and will be the person your medical team consults about decisions regarding your health care.