Advance care planning is an important part of getting older. With this kind of plan, you’ll be able to talk about what you want to have happen in a medical crisis, even if you’re not able to speak out for yourself at that time. That could be important in achieving a successful outcome.

Your advance directive can also help you express your preferences with end-of-life care. It sets up your health care power of attorney, which is the person who can make decisions for you when you’re unable to.

What are some issues that you may want to address in your advance care plans?

Some of the decisions that you can make in your advance care plan include:

  • Whether or not you’d like to see a ventilator used in your care
  • If you would like to be tube-fed or to receive artificial hydration
  • If you approve cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • If you would like comfort care once it becomes apparent that you’re dying

To get started with this planning, you need to sit down and think about your health, your family’s health history and what you’d like in different scenarios. For instance, if you have a heart attack that is going to require surgery, you may want someone you trust to make decisions over the kind of surgery you receive or the treatments you receive while you’re unable to speak on your own behalf. Similarly, if you suffer a brain injury in a traumatic accident, you may want to have someone there who can speak for you and tell the medical team what you’d like and not like as you recover or require end-of-life care.

Making an estate plan can be complicated. It’s wise to enlist the assistance of an experienced advocate to assist you as you move forward.