Advance Care Planning
What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance Care Planning is an ongoing process where you share your wishes and instructions for future health-care treatments.
- THINK about what is important to you and what you understand about your health.
- LEARN about your health, medical treatments, and options.
- DECIDE who will speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself.
- TALK with those close to you and your health-care team.
- RECORD your wishes.
As part of advance care planning, you can make an advance care plan, appoint a proxy, or both.
Substitute Decision Maker is the person who will make your medical decisions if you can’t make your own. This could be for a short time if you have an accident or illness, or permanently if you lose the ability to make decisions.
A Proxy is the person you appoint to make your medical decisions when you can’t make your own. Your proxy is your voice, when you can’t speak for yourself.
Even if you aren’t ready to make an advance care plan, you can still appoint a proxy. No one else can appoint a proxy for you after you lose the ability to make decisions.
If you don’t appoint a proxy, there are rules about who can make your medical decisions. The health-care team must look for your nearest relative. It might not be the person you would have wanted to make decisions for you.
Advance Care Plans
If you can still make your own medical decisions, you can make an advance care plan. No one else can make an advance care plan for you. You can’t make an advance care plan for someone else after they lose the ability to make their own decisions.
You can use any form or template you want to make an advance care plan. As long as it’s signed and dated by you, it’s a legal document. It’s a good idea to have your plan or proxy form witnessed. If you choose to have your forms witnessed, it can’t be witnessed by your proxy or your proxy’s spouse.
If you want you can use these templates to make an Advance Care Plan or appoint your proxy.
Store your plan and other important information in a place where it will be found easily when there is an emergency. Give a copy of your plan to those close to you such as your family or your proxy. Bring a copy with you if you have an appointment or go to hospital. Some hospitals have place to store advance care plans.
Is never too early. If you are not ready to make specific decisions for the future, it’s still a good idea to think about it and talk with those closest to you. This can help prepare them if they have to make decisions for you in the future. Appoint a proxy so your voice is heard when you can’t speak for yourself.
You can change your mind at any time as long as you can still make your own decisions.