What is Advanced Care Planning?

If you become too ill or injured to tell our doctors what kind of health care you want to receive, how will they know your preferences?

Contrary to what many people think, advance care planning is something we should consider at any time in our lives, not just as we age.

The reality is a catastrophic illness or injury can strike any person at any time. Without a plan in place for the type of care you want to receive, you leave your family members or those closest to you to take their best guesses as they make those decisions for you.

Learning about the types of decisions that would likely be made at the end of life or after an accident allows you to think them through. This allows you to make decisions that align with your values, faith and personal views – particularly when/if your life becomes such that you want your doctors to keep you comfortable, but not to intervene or try to slow your death. After considering your preferences, it’s important to let your family, friends and health care providers know what you’d like to have happen and under which circumstances.
Some advance care planning decisions focus on the use of emergency treatments to attempt to keep you alive, including:

  • Use of CPR
  • Ventilator use
  • Feeding tubes or intravenous (IV) fluids for hydration
  • Comfort care at the end of life