What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance care planning involves thinking about, discussing with your family and close friends, and possibly documenting what types of health care you may or may not wish to receive - if you become seriously ill and/or unable to speak for yourself.
Advance care planning is not euthanasia. It is about people taking control of their health care wishes now and in the future. This is especially relevant near the end of life. This means your specific treatment wishes as well as your goals, values and beliefs are known and can be respected by health providers and those closest to you.
Ideally advance care planning involves:
1. Appointing a person, known as a substitute decision maker, who can make health care decisons for you if you are too unwell to do this for yourself.
2. Writing your wishes down in an advance care directive, sometimes known as a "living will".
Why should you consider advance care planning?
All adults may wish to consider advance care planning. It is however, especially relevant for people with a chronic illness such as lung or heart disease, the healthy elderly and people with other serious and life threatening illnesses such as dementia, cancer and stroke.
While well and healthy, it can be hard to think about treatments that might never be required, but life can change in an instant and difficult medical decisions may need to be made about you.
For example, what if you were involved in a car accident, suffered a brain injury and were not going to make a full recovery. If you were unable to make medical decisions when needed, who would you like to speak for you and what should they decide? These are the benefits of advance care planning.