End of Life Planning

5/27/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

You probably already realize how unpredictable the future is, but even though you know it, a part of you may still believe you’ll be able to make your own medical decisions no matter what comes up down the road. However, while you might not have been “sick a day in your life” as some people claim, a sudden medical crisis – experienced at any age – could leave you too unwell to make healthcare decisions on your own. And when you cannot speak for yourself, advance care planning makes your wishes known for you. But what is advance care planning – and is it worth it?

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is studying the kinds of decisions you might need to make, considering those decisions beforehand, and informing others – family and health care providers – about your wishes.

You will typically put your choices into the form of an advance directive, which is a legal document that takes effect if you are not in a condition to speak for yourself. You could be incapacitated by either an injury or disease at any age, and the advance directive lets others know the level of medical care you want.

Often called a living will, the advance directive spells out your desires related to end-of-life medical care. As a so-called living document, it is one you can modify as your situation changes with new information or a change in your health.

Advance care planning benefits you and your family

So, what is advance care planning’s benefits to you and your loved ones? It keeps your loved ones from second-guessing whether they made the best decisions on your behalf. It also gives your health care providers essential information on your health care preferences and if you desire life-sustaining measures even if there is little chance for your recovery.

Think of advance care planning as a way to give yourself and your family peace of mind, ensuring that your voice is heard and respected regarding your health care and end-of-life measures.

Research indicates that those who document their wishes via an advance directive are much more likely to receive the care they prefer at the end of life than those who do not.

What types of advance care planning decisions should you consider?

Sometimes doctors must make decisions about using emergency treatments to keep you alive. They can use several artificial or mechanical methods to try to do this.

Getting started with advance care planning

Now, what is advance care planning in its beginning stages? Begin your planning by considering the type of treatment you want (or do not want) in a medical emergency. It might be a good idea to discuss with your doctor how your present health could influence your future health. For example, if you are dealing with high blood pressure now, what decisions would you or your family encounter if it resulted in a stroke?

And even if you have no medical issues now, your doctor can advise you based on your family’s medical history. It’s best to think through your options with a health professional before you put your wishes in writing.

Advance care planning should reflect your values

As you think about possible future scenarios, consider your personal values:

  • Is your primary desire to have the most days of life?
  • Would you instead focus on the quality of your life?
  • If an illness or injury left you in a permanent coma, would you want to be on a ventilator?
  • If your heart were to stop or you could no longer breathe properly, would you want to undergo life-saving measures to give you more time with your loved ones?
  • Would your decision change if you were left mentally impaired by a stroke?

Some people will choose to stay alive as long as medically possible, while others will want a certain quality attached to their life. While there are no right or wrong answers, your advance care planning will ensure that your preferences are fulfilled.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff