Many people think that Advance Healthcare Planning is only for elderly and ill people. While the actions of completing and discussing these documents are very important for those who are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, it is important for all adults to consider our wishes should we one day be unable to speak for ourselves. In the blink of an eye, one’s life can change forever. Making your wishes known ahead of time can be a gift your family and friends will treasure as they communicate those decisions to healthcare professionals if you are unable to express them.
1. Consider what you would want for healthcare if you were so ill that you could not speak for yourself.
2. Discuss your wishes, thoughts, and feelings with the person(s) who would be your agent/proxy, as well as any others who might be involved in discussions about your care.
3. Speak with a hospital chaplain or pastoral minister if any parts of the document challenge your faith issues.
4. Pick two people to be your agent/proxy, one as primary and the other as alternate. These people should be individuals who are able to handle the stress of making decisions about your care.
5. Have other family members complete an Advance Directive for Healthcare for themselves.
6. Have someone who “knows the documents” better than you help you and your family with completing them. Many hospitals and eldercare agencies have staff who are familiar with Advance Care Planning and would be happy to help.
For more information, or a sample of an Advance Directive form you can visit American Family Physician
Excerpt from “Advance Medical Directives: What You Need to Know” from CareNotes