ADVANCE CARE PLANNING

What is Advance Care Planning?

  • The process of making and documenting decisions about the medical care you would want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself is called Advance Care Planning.

  • An advance directive, the product of Advance Care Planning, is comprised of the appointment of a health care agent and a Living Will.

  • Decisions about end-of-life care in an advance directive are based on your personal values, preferences, and discussions with your loved ones.

  • The advance directive names your health care agent, who will speak and act for you if you experience an accident or illness that leaves you unable to express your wishes.

  • A Living Will documents your choices about medical treatment including interventions, nutrition and pain control.

 

Why Does Advance Care Planning Matter?

  • Over 50% of people in Maryland die in a hospital or nursing home.

  • Over half of the population will not be able to make their own decisions at the end of their lives.

  • Less than 1/3 of people in Maryland have completed an Advance Directive.

  • Families often cannot agree on treatment during stressful times.

  • In the U.S., people may receive at the end-of-life doesn’t always reflect what they said they wanted. 

A Health Care Agent …

  • Can be anyone over the age of 18.

  • Can be a family member, loved one or close friend.

  • Is authorized to speak ONLY if you are unable to speak for yourself.

  • Is someone who:

    • is willing; you trust; knows your wishes; will advocate on your behalf; and will honor your wishes.

  • Can authorize the use of pain medication in amounts necessary to control pain in end-of-life situations, even if such medication may shorten the patient’s life.

  • Can authorize the use of, withholding of, or termination of artificial feeding and hydration.

  • Can authorize any other treatment to be administered, withheld or terminated in accordance with the Agent's understanding of your wishes and desires.

 

Other Considerations That Can Be Part of an Advance Directive:

  • Issues unique to you

  • Religious beliefs that relate to specific medical issues

  • Preferences for where you want to be cared for

  • Decisions/instructions about burial/cremation

 

An Advance Directive Allows You To…

  • Maintain control – directly or through your health care agent.

  • Direct desired results.

  • Help reduce family strife.

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