Advance Care Planning focuses on care that is consistent with your goals, values and preferences. The legal document is often called a Living Will that specifies what actions should be taken for your health.
Most adults only consider Advance Care Planning as the end of life approaches. But it is equally important to be prepared for unfortunate circumstances earlier in life.
We all know that accidents happen – and when they do, it is not the best time for you or your loved ones to make split-second decisions about the most important care you may ever require.
Do you and your family know what type of care you would want? Have you looked into what options are even available? Have you written down your wishes?
Begin by talking to friends – perhaps they have already thought about it and have some learning to share? Try making some online inquiries, type in “Living Will” or “Advance Care Planning” and make a checklist of items to consider. Be receptive about discussing these topics openly - and start to write down your choices.
Some difficult conversations are hard to start. But when approached with curiosity (what could we discover?) and respect (how can we make difficult decisions easier on ourselves and those closest to us?). You will quickly discover that challenging conversations become both meaningful and relevant when focused on a positive outcome.
Being prepared in advance helps take the stress off everyone involved. This is a process that requires mutual co-operation between you, your family, care workers, health professionals and community organizations.
Here is a checklist to jump start the process:
- What type of care do you want?
- What short-term care and long-term care options are available in your community?
- What are some of the potential medical and legal issues that could arise?
- If you couldn't speak for yourself, who would you want to handle important care decisions?
- Will you issue a “Do not resuscitate” (DNR) which is a legal form to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), in respect of your wishes, in case your heart were to stop, or you were to stop breathing.
- Will you appoint a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) or Power of Attorney (PoA)
- Have you written your Estate Will? Will you appoint an Estate Trustee or an Executer of your Will?
Planning ahead will help ensure that you receive the care you want - and can also make things significantly easier for those closest to you.
For more information about how you can support or get involved with Age Friendly Guelph, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit guelph.ca/agefriendly.
by Karen McElroy – Age Friendly Guelph Leadership Team and CEO of Boardroom Metrics Inc.