The Importance of Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning is something that every adult should do for themselves and their family.

Preparing for “what if” enables you to make decisions about the care you would like to receive should you become incapacitated, and relieves family members of the burden of having to act on your behalf in a crisis.

 Although you may tell your wishes to friends or family members, they may not always agree with them. An advance directive is the best way to ensure your health and end of life decisions remain your own. The primary documents you should include in your advance care plan are a living will and a medical power of attorney.  

 A living will is the document that details the type of medical treatment you do and do not want administered, where you want to receive care, and who will provide it. The care decisions outlined in your living will should include specific instructions on administering life-sustaining treatments, hospice care, and organ donation.

A medical power of attorney allows you to choose a surrogate to make decisions about your care in the event that you cannot. This would include general health care decisions, as well as decisions about end of life care. The person you name will not be able to make these decisions until a physician declares you are unable to do so.

 A “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order is a medical order written by your doctor based on the information you provide. You should outline your wishes regarding when you approve the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in your advance directives. CPR can include chest compressions, defibrillation, mechanical ventilation, and medication.

  •  Original copies of your advance directives should be kept in a secure place.

  • Your health care surrogate, physicians, and medical facilities should all have copies of your directives.

  • Carry an advance directive information card in your wallet with contact information for your health care surrogate.

  • Advance directives should be reviewed annually.

An advance care plan can be used at any stage of life and should be updated as circumstances change.

Provide your referral sources with information on Advance Care Planning and the advantage of educating patients on the benefits of Home Health and Hospice Care.


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