Later in life or when faced with a serious illness, we face a variety of health issues and might not be able to care for ourselves like we want. Making an advance care plan can ease worries for you and your family about what might happen to you if you are unable to make decisions about your own care.
An advance care plan is a written document that helps you make sure your care is specific to reflect your personal likes and dislikes and health needs, as well as meet your social, cultural and religious needs. Getting answers to your questions and letting people know what you want at the end of your life can help you feel more in control and give you peace of mind as you go about living your life.
“An advance care plan is a good idea for all adults, regardless of their medical history. Discussing these issues can be difficult — even impossible if a crisis is ongoing. The goal is to make it easier for the patient and the family if the situation does happen,” says Dr. Clyde Yancy, chair of the education committee at the Heart Failure Society of America, a nonprofit educational and research organization dedicated to improving the quality and duration of life for patients with heart failure and preventing the condition for those at risk.
Many chronic diseases, including but not limited to heart failure, can eventually use up all reasonable medical approaches. Planning ahead is important. An advance care plan often includes an advance care directive, a do-not-resuscitate order, a living will, a health care power of attorney and a financial plan.
Advance care directive
This document will provide clear directions regarding your medical treatment and can include a living will, a durable health care power of attorney and a statement about organ donation.
This part of the plan tells doctors, nurses and other rescue personnel what they should or should not do when a person stops breathing or when their heart stops beating or is beating so irregularly it threatens life. The order can include instructions on whether to use different types of methods to revive a person.
A living will is usually used during a terminal illness when a person is unable to tell someone what they want to do. It is a legal document that lets a person who is unable to participate in decisions about their medical care express their wishes about life-sustaining treatment.
Health care power of attorney
A health care power of attorney lets someone make all legally binding health care decisions for you, including the decision to refuse life-sustaining treatment if you are unable to make the decision for yourself.
Health care can be very expensive, especially when treating chronic illnesses. A financial plan is created to help families deal with issues such as paying for medicines, doctor visits and hospital stays.
“Telling those close to you what you want helps them convey your wishes to those providing care for you. It should be comforting to know that the care is provided for you in a way that best meets your wishes,” says Yancy.
“Even if you do not create a written advance care plan, these discussions with your health care providers, family and other caretakers are important.”
To learn more about advance care planning visit the Heart Failure Society of America at www.abouthf.org.
Courtesy of ARAcontent