Preparation is the key for every event in life and your health is no exception. Atlantic Health System put together the following guide for advance care planning, which ensures that you receive medical treatment that aligns with your values.
Have the Conversation
End of life care is a difficult topic to talk about for many, but sharing your preferences with your loved ones and your health care team early on is critically important. By doing so, they will be able to honor your wishes through appropriate medical decisions in times of serious illness or injury.
Designate a Health Care Proxy
In addition to having a conversation, it’s important to think of who can best represent you if you’re incapacitated. This is called a health care proxy, health care agent or durable power of attorney for health care. He or she can talk with your doctors, consult your medical records and make decisions about diagnostic tests and treatments.
Create an Advance Directive
Record your health care instructions, also known as a living will, and your designated health care proxy in an official document called an advanced directive. You may also want to include details on organ and tissue donation.
Ask Your Doctor About Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment
A POLST is a legally binding document completed with a health care provider, which like an advance directive, lays out your personal care preferences. It is intended for those with serious illnesses at the end of life and may include do not resuscitate orders (DNR).
Your Decisions Matter
Community Advisory Boards at Chilton Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center awarded SAGE Eldercare with a three-year grant to educate the public about end-of-life care conversations. The Your Decisions Matter initiative organizes local workshops and events and provides a host of resources and tools that encourage individuals to share their wishes with family and health care providers before a medical crisis occurs.