Discussing a future where you can no longer make decisions for yourself is never easy for your loved ones, and you might also feel uncomfortable about approaching the topic of advanced care planning as well. However, having a plan in place can remove the burden of difficult decisions that your family may have to make otherwise.
According to the National Institute on Aging, advanced care planning is a flexible-yet-legal document that lists your wishes regarding medical care and end-of-life directives. Before you create an advance care document, you may want to learn more about the process and what you want to include.
About advance care directives
Unlike a will, advance care directives speak for you in case you ever become very ill or can no longer make decisions for yourself if you should become incapacitated. This may include several different situations, such as:
- An accident that leaves you unable to speak
- Unconsciousness due to severe illness
- A stroke or other medical emergency
This document allows your family members and medical care providers to understand and acknowledge your wishes, such as whether doctors should attempt resuscitation if your heart stops or if you do not wish to live on a ventilator. Making these decisions before an accident or illness causes infirmity can help your loved ones feel more comfortable regarding future treatment.
Creating the document
When you begin to map out your advance care directives, you might consider physical, emotional and spiritual factors. For example, if you have an illness that you know may grow progressively worse, you can include how long you wish for any treatments to last and include end-of-life directives according to your beliefs.
You may choose almost anyone to carry out your advance care directives. Keep your document in a safe place and allow at least one trusted family member to know its location.