Advance Care Planning
Make your own choices for health care and empower your loved ones to act on your behalf in case of a crisis. Learn how advance care planning helps ensure you get the type of care you want—even if you become too sick or hurt to speak for yourself.
What is Advance Care Planning?
During advance care planning, you:
• Reflect on your goals, values and preferences
• Learn about the types of decisions that might need to be made about your health care
• Create advance directives—documents that specify what type of medical care you want in the future or who you want to make decisions for you if you can’t make decisions for yourself
Get Started with Advance Care Planning
Types of Advance Directives
Advance directives are legal documents that are used only in the case that you’re not able to speak for yourself. Your advance directives may include:
• Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare – Names your patient advocate
• Living Will (Treatment Preferences) – Explains your preferences for end-of-life care
• Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order – Tells health care professionals you do not want life-saving measures if your heart or breathing stop; your physician must fill out this form
What’s a Patient Advocate?
Your patient advocate is the person you want to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. Your advocate’s responsibilities may include:
• Arranging your medical care
• Honoring your health care preferences
• Making decisions about your living situation
• Reviewing and releasing your medical records
Your patient advocate will not be able to make decisions about your finances and property unless you also complete a separate legal document allowing them to do so.
Choosing a Patient AdvocateThink carefully about who you want to be your patient advocate. Make sure the person you choose:
• Is an adult (18 years old or older)
• Is willing to take on this role and responsibility
• Can make decisions in stressful situations
• Knows your preferences
• Will honor your preferences, even if they disagree
Why is Advance Care Planning Important?Advance care planning can give you peace of mind. That’s because this process makes it more likely that you’ll get the type of care you want—no matter what happens. It also takes a burden off your loved ones because they’ll know what you want them to do.
Who Should Be Involved?We encourage you to talk about your health care wishes with loved ones who are involved with your care. It’s helpful for them to hear your wishes first-hand.
You’ll need two witnesses to sign your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.
You are welcome to consult with an attorney, but it is not required.
After you complete your advance directives, make sure your patient advocate and doctor each have a copy.
Updating Your Advance DirectivesComplete new advance care planning documents when you need to:
• Name a new patient advocate
• Update your health care preferences