“6 months after losing a loved one, depression rates are lower in families who had the end-of-life conversation.”
–Carla S. Baum
Advance Care Planning is a process of learning about healthcare decisions that may need to be made, talking with professionals, friends, or clergy, documenting treatment preferences, and then letting others - such as your loved ones and your healthcare provider - know about your preferences.
After much research, reflection, and conversation, end-of-life treatment decisions are put into an Advance Directive, which is a legal document that goes into effect if one is incapacitated and unable to speak for oneself. An Advance Directive allows you to express your values and desires related to your end-of-life care.
An Advance Directive includes the types of treatments you do or do not want, should you no longer be able to make decisions or communicate your wishes. An Advance Directive stays in effect until you die unless you cancel it. You may make changes to your directive.
Your Healthcare Agent should be someone who understands your goals and values, and someone you trust to carry out your wishes. You may choose a family member, spouse, adult child or close friend who is at least 18 years of age. Choose someone who you trust to speak for you should you be unable to speak for yourself.
The Conversation Continuum
Source: The Conversation Project
Let’s Get Started!
- Think about what you or your loved one would want or would not want for end-of-life medical care;
- Learn about medical treatments that may be considered and determine whether the treatments are what you or your loved one want.
- An informed decision is critical so learn about your medical condition(s) and its potential impact on your quality of life and end-of-life wishes.
You may find conversations with your clergy, your physician(s) or other healthcare professionals, perhaps friends who have had experience with a loved one’s end-of-life care, or a conversation with a resource from the Meaningful Life team to be helpful.
- Identify your Healthcare Agent(s);
- Choose someone who you know well and trust to speak for you if you should be unable to speak for yourself and talk with them about your expectations and their willingness to follow through with your end-of-life wishes;
- Ask them for their commitment to honor your wishes even if they do not agree.
- Document your wishes in an Advance Directive form, which may need to be witnessed and notarized; or based on your state laws.
- Make multiple copies of your Advance Directive and share with loved ones, physicians, hospitals, clergy, EMS and friends.
You will find samples, documents, and additional information on the Resources page of this site.