Advance Care Planning an Important Part of Medical Care

Decisions about end-of-life care should be made before a medical crisis occurs

Advance care planning is not something to wait to think about late in life.  A medical crisis could leave anyone – young or old - too sick to make healthcare decisions.  Even if you are not ill now, making healthcare plans for the future is an important step toward making sure you get the medical care you would want, even when doctors and

 family members are making the decisions for you.
Advance care planning involves learning about the types of decisions that might need to be made, considering those decisions ahead of time, and then letting others know about your preferences
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One piece of the advance care planning process is the completion of an advance directive.  An advance directive is a legal document that states the types of treatment a person would or would not want should they become incapacitated and unable to communicate. It helps others know the type of medical care that is wanted and allows the individual to express values and desires related to end-of-life care.  An advance directive can be changed and adjusted with new information when changes in health occur.

 A second piece is communication.  It is important that a trusted family member or friend who is strong enough to carry out your wishes is chosen to put end-of-life plans into motion.  Conversations with your designee, friends, family and healthcare providers are also important to ensure they are clear and understand what your wishes are.
For some having a healthcare power of attorney is another piece of the advance care plan to formalize the process of making that person your official spokesperson should you be unable to speak for yourself.  This is important to keep loved ones from arguing about your wishes and carrying them out.
Advance Care Planning starts with a conversation.  For more information about Advance Care Planning, contact Ernest Shock, Chief Nursing Officer at (864) 366-3346.  TheConversationProject.org also has many useful resources to help start this important conversation with loved-ones.