Updated: May 11
A person does not have to be at the end of life to start preparing for it. Advance care planning is something that can be done whether or not a person has reached old age or is dealing with an illness. Often, people fall too ill to make decisions about their care or die without having post-life directives in place, leaving their families to scramble.
Although making these types of decisions can offer a huge relief to family and loved ones, far too few people actually have a specific plan in place. An exception to that is a small Wisconsin city where a reported 96 percent of residents have directives to be carried out- well above the national average. By answering important questions and outlining specific plans, it not only ensures someone receives the care that they plan for, but it also provides their loved ones with a clear roadmap.
Here is a guide to the steps someone should take to begin making these plans:
Detailing Your End of Life Wishes
People spend a lot of time assessing and reviewing the way they want to live their lives, but reflections about end of life plans aren’t always as common. Adults should create these plans with a/an:
Advanced Care Directive
Drafting these documents reflect a person’s values and wishes for their care, which help give medical professionals a straightforward understanding of the care you’d like to receive, without loved ones having to guess and make those stressful decisions on your behalf.
Discussing Your Wishes With Loved Ones
Talking about one’s care in the event of a medical emergency can be difficult and personal, but it’s necessary to have these conversations with loved ones. Though it may be initially uncomfortable, having these conversations before a medical emergency occurs is worth it in the long run. To begin the conversation:
Share how a recent article, a friend’s story, or your faith affected your decision
Emphasize why you feel it’s important to have these plans in place
This preparation will likely be much appreciated by loved ones, as it spares them difficult decisions that often come during the height of their stress and/or grief over an ailing or deceased loved one.
Finalizing A Durable Power of Attorney (for Healthcare)
Some emergencies can’t be predicted and in the event of a medical emergency, it’s important to have someone able to act quickly. By having a finalized Medical Power of Attorney, an “agent” (a.k.a. a loved one or other trusted individual) is ready to make important care decisions on an unwell person’s behalf, should a doctor deem them incapable of making that decision. Before finalizing this document, consider appointing someone who is:
Local and, therefore, able to respond in a timely manner in the event of an emergency
Trustworthy, and committed to upholding wishes, regardless of whether or not they agree