In life, we plan for many important events like retirement, vacations, and our children’s education. Sadly, we are not so good at planning for the type of care we want to receive at the end of life. Planning for future medical care should you become ill is called advanced care planning. Advance Directives document the decisions that came out of this care planning. Only one in three Americans have completed Advance Directives.
An advance directive lets you have control over your health care decisions. It guides the health care team if you are unable to communicate and provides comfort to your family in that they do not have to guess what you would want. The best time to create an advance directive is before you are sick – when you can better understand your options and communicate them with your family and doctor.
Advance planning documents include a Living Will and a Medical Power of Attorney. These are legal documents that outline the type of care that is desired and who can make decisions for you when a doctor determines you are no longer able to do so.
Having these conversations is difficult but there are excellent free resources on line to help you get started.
Being prepared for the what-ifs in life is a wonderful gift to your family, who will understand your wishes, and to yourself, for your own peace of mind.
Contributed by: Karen Pearson, NP
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