Imagine you are in an accident or have a sudden illness that leaves you unable to communicate. Your loved one or caregiver is faced with a difficult decision about whether to continue life-saving measures. How does that person know what to do?
It may be difficult to think about these scenarios, but it is even more difficult for a loved one to make decisions on your behalf if you have not discussed or documented your wishes.
Advance care planning is about making choices about the healthcare you would want to receive if you were unable to speak for yourself. These are personal decisions, based on your preferences and values as well as discussions with your loved ones.
You can do it in three basic steps:
- Discuss – your preferences with your loved ones so they know what matters to you.
- Decide – who will be your health care advocate and let them know you’ve chosen them to be your voice
- Document – your choices so they can be accessed by the healthcare system when needed.
It’s okay if you don’t know all of the answers right away, but you can take steps to get started. We can’t predict when we might face a medical situation where we are unable to speak for ourselves. So it’s not just for older adults. In fact, anyone over 18 can do it.
Advance care planning allows you to plan for a time when you can’t make your own medical decisions. There’s no better time like the present to talk about advance care planning with your loved ones and doctors.