Difficult situations do not come with notice, and this is why advanced care planning (ACP) is very important. Not only the ill or elderly, but everyone can benefit from documenting their end-of-life choices. If you outline your wishes ahead of time, an advance care plan can make your life much easier.
What is advanced care plan?
An advanced care directive or plan is a legal document that specifies the wish of an individual for such situations where he/she will not be able to make medical decisions. Policies differ from state to state, and ACP can also include health care agents or proxies, living wills, and medical directives.
Care directives allow people to state how much life-saving care they desire in such situations where recovery from a certain injury or illness is unlikely. For instance, during last stages of an illness or a coma, there are emergency treatments that can help keep patients alive like life support or resuscitation.
Under such situations, some patients would want not want to continue receiving treatments as long as it is possible medically while others would want to continue receiving these treatments. Advance care directives states under which situations the directives shall apply, and if or no the individual wants life support, resuscitation, or other treatments.
Who should opt for an ACP?
Usually, people who are seriously ill or elderly opt for the plan, and they are advantageous for those suffering from long-term terminal or chronic illness. However, even those who are young and healthy can benefit from ACP as illnesses and accidents can happen anytime, and having an advanced care directive only increases the chances of your wishes being followed.
How to fill out an ACP document
Different states offer different advanced care directive forms and have different procedures to officiate them, and you can access these forms through the Department of Health of your state. It will be best to get help from an agent to complete your advance care directive.
How to choose your proxy
You need to choose such a person as your healthcare proxy who you trust, and who would understand your wishes in such medical situations that are not directly specified by your advanced care planning form. You need to be 18 years of age or above to be a healthcare proxy, but you need not be related. Some common choices include spouses, children, siblings, or close friends. The default decision maker is next of kin, so it is very important to select a substitute if you want someone else to make decisions.