Advanced Care Planning; What is it and why it is important? [4-23-18]

Advanced Care Planning; What is it and why it is important?

By Susan P. Bakalar, Esq. and Raymond A. Piccin, Esq.

Planning ahead for your future health care needs is one of the most important and caring things you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Informing your family members and health providers of the kind of care you want, before a serious illness or injury insures that your wishes can and will be honored, even when you can’t share them on your own.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is a process of thinking about, discussing and communicating future medical choices should you experience a sudden illness or injury, or a chronic or life-limiting illness or an event which may severely impact or make it impossible for you to communicate your wishes on your own. It’s more than just the document you complete. Some things you can do as part of advance care planning include:

  • Learning more about your health care treatment options,
  • Clarify your health care goals,
  • Evaluate your options about what kind of care and treatment you do or do not want,
  • Decide who you want to appoint to speak on your behalf, if you are unable to make your own decisions or are not able to communicate your decisions,
  • Complete an advance care planning document and put your wishes in writing with as much detail as possible,
  • Communicate your wishes and share your document with family, friends, clergy, other advisers, physicians and other health care professionals.

What types of medical choices are considered during advance care planning?

One of the most important choices you can make is to identify the person you would want to speak on your behalf and make decisions for you if you are physically unable to do so. This person is known as your “surrogate.” You can decide if you do or do not want extraordinary measures to prolong your life, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), artificial ventilation (respirator), artificial nutrition and hydration (tube feeding and IV fluids) and other life prolonging measures. It is important to be aware that medical technology has advanced to the point where a person can be kept alive long after they have fallen into a coma and are unable to respond or to make decision on their own. There are numerous instances where an individual has become incapacitated or comatose and has been kept alive via artificial means and they languish in a coma for months to years leaving their family to have to make very difficult decisions in the absence of advanced care directives.

Who should I include in the advance care planning process?

People who participate in advance care planning may include the person chosen to be their healthcare surrogate, family members, other people important to you and your doctor(s). These people also should understand what is in your plan, when you make changes to your plan and what those changes are as well as recognize and accept the responsibility to ensure that your wishes are understood and followed in the event that you are unable to express your wishes or make decisions on your own.

Who should do advance care planning and have a plan?

All adults ages 18 and older should have these important conversations with loved ones and create a plan. It is most advantageous to do undertake planning when you are healthy, and well before medical procedures or other activities that may put your health at risk. In many instances, especially before medical procedures are undertaken, the facility in which the medical procedure will be performed may require that you provide them with certain documents such as you advanced care directive and if you do not have the documents already prepared, they may provide you with a very basic form to use which may or may not completely and accurate identify your specific desires.

If you have a loved one that you would like to make sure is protected, make sure they have the right type of estate plan and proper documents that will protect them.   If you’d like to discuss these matters we can offer you a complimentary consultation with our trusted estate planning attorneys to discuss your particular needs.

Bakalar & Associates, P.A.

12472 West Atlantic Blvd.

Coral Springs, FL 33071

(800) 495-4951