Why is Advance Care Planning Important?
When an individual communicates their future healthcare preferences/wishes:
- There is a higher likelihood that you will be given medical care that matches your values as well as the values.
- There is reduced stress for family members, and people you love and trust if difficult decisions regarding life-sustaining care must be made.
When Should Individuals Begin Advance Care Planning?
It is recommended that all people over the age of 18 start advance care planning. The best way to start is by having conversations with the people you trust, and your healthcare team. It is important to keep having these conversations, and, Honoring Choices Minnesota® recommends you follow the guide of “5 Ds” as a reminder of when to have advance care planning conversations:
Advance care planning discussions are important when you start a new Decade of life.
When you experience a family change or Divorce, make sure your healthcare directive is updated, or that other people you love and trust know your healthcare values and wishes.
When you’re Diagnosed with a serious health condition, advance care planning is important – start with your healthcare team and update your healthcare agents and people you trust about your new diagnosis.
Whenever you experience the Death of a loved one, your health care directive may need updating. You may change how you feel about life-prolonging treatments or have a different idea of what you would want for your own death.
When you experience a physical Decline because of an existing health condition it might be important to review your health care directive or make changes to your future health care wishes based on your health changes.
Call the North Memorial Health Advance Care Planning Hotline: 763-581-8282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Advance Care Planning Process
1. Understand Your Own Wishes
Advance care planning is about making your preferences known to family, loved ones and providers. Before you can share your preferences, you must understand the options and determine what your preferences really are. There are many places to learn more about how to plan for your care. Some important questions to consider include:
- Are there any situations in which I would want to refuse or stop treatment(s)?
- Are there therapies I would want or not want?
- Who do I want making decisions for me in the event that I am unable to make decisions for myself?
2. Choose a Health Care Agent
A health care agent should be someone you trust to speak on your behalf if you are not able to talk or communicate with your healthcare team. An agent does not make decisions based upon their own opinion, but rather based on the values and goals that have been communicated to them by the people they represent.
3. Complete Your Health Care Directive
There are several kinds of documents used in advance care planning. Each document informs heath care providers about your specific wishes. The documents may vary by state, but they must be signed and may need to be witnessed or notarized in order to be considered legal documents. A legal document, called a health care directive, belongs to you, includes your wishes and can only be cancelled or changed when you choose. Hopefully your health care directive names a health care agent – legally, they have to do their best to follow the wishes you have written in your legal health care directive.
What is a Health Care Agent?
Sometimes people think of health care agents as advocates or see them as a healthcare decision maker spokesperson, because their job is to talk with your healthcare team when you are unable. The name of this role varies by state. Some states call this role a Durable Medical Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, or use the term POA. Sometimes a health care agent may be called a proxy, surrogate, advocate, representative or decision maker. No matter what they are called, your health care agent, as they are called in Minnesota, is an official duty that is identified by a legal document, which in Minnesota is called a Health Care Directive.
What types of decisions might my healthcare agent need to make?
- Medical care or services, such as tests, medications and surgery
- Stopping treatments, even those treatments that might prolong your life
- Reviewing and releasing your medical records
- Choosing providers or organizations to provide your care
- Move you to another location for care
Making medical decisions for someone else is a big responsibility – you will want to let your health care agent know that you have named them in a legal document. You can discuss with your health care agent your specific wishes, and your wishes for your future, as well as your end-of-live.