In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Week, here's what you should know about advance care planning, as well as a few reasons why people often fail to plan.
National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) and National Healthcare Decisions Week are part of an initiative intended to encourage Americans to understand the importance of making future healthcare decisions. This week is not only about making end-of-life decisions, seniors and families should document their wishes for any event in which they can't speak for themselves. This can be anything from an chronic illness, change in health, or an unexpected accident.
What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance care planning is the process of learning and preparing for the types of decisions that may (or may not) need to be made. These decisions extend far beyond what you want (or don't want). In addition to clarifying your care preferences, advance care planning requires you to clarify your values and select an agent to express your healthcare decisions in the event you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
Once you decide on your preferences, you can put them into an advance care directive.
An advance care directive is a legal document that becomes effective only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. This document essentially helps others know what type of care you want and allows you to document your values and desires related to end-of-life care.
Types of Decisions
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more commonly referred to as CPR, to restore your heartbeat
- Ventilator use, the use of machines that help you breathe
- Artificial nutrition, such as tube feeding
- Artificial hydration, including intravenous fluids (IV)
- Comfort care, which is anything that can be one to relieve your suffering including spiritual or emotional counseling, pain medication, etc.
3 Barriers to Advance Care Planning
1. You Don't Know How To Start The Conversation
Although many Americans claim to know they need to start their advance care planning, many of them admit they haven't taken the initiative to do so. This can be for a variety of reasons, but we can't ignore the obvious: talking about long-term care is hard.
Healthcare professionals, such as Amada care coordinators, are often better at raising the topic of advance care planning. Amada Senior Care professionals can help facilitate a conversation between you and loved ones about your long-term care preferences.
Amada can not only help you plan and document your wishes, but we can incorporate your wishes into the delivery of your care.
2. You Don't Have a Lawyer
Contrary to common belief, you don’t need a lawyer to create an advance directive (living will, health care power of attorney, etc.).
Free forms and information are available for every state at www.nhdd.org. Also, every hospital in the United States is required to provide patients with advance directives, so you can always ask your local hospital.
3. You Are Bad At Making Decisions
Advance care planning is stressful, but it can be even more challenging for those who have trouble making decisions.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the decision-making nature of advance care planning, it's helpful to know, your advance care directive is not final.
You can change the document as often as you like. In fact, it is recommended you revisit your advance directive throughout your life, as your values and situation changes.
Advance care planning is not something you should wait until you are "old" to think about. Medical emergencies can occur at any time, and can leave you unable to make critical decisions about your care. The best way to ensure you are in control of your care is through advance care planning.
“Advance Care Planning,” Ashley LeVine, Amada Blog Contributor.