No matter how old you are, planning for your future care needs is one important gift you can give yourself and your family. It ensures that the care you get is the care you want, even if you’re not able to reveal your wishes. Without an advance care plan, including a health care proxy and living will, it can be difficult for family and other loved ones to decide the care you get or to know whether they are doing the right thing for you.
Only three out of ten Americans have advance care plans, sometimes called advance directives. Many people don’t realize they need them. And, even if you want one, it’s easy to put off completing the advance care plan. So, if you don’t yet have a living will or health care proxy, here are three steps to take on your own, when you’re spending time with family and for sure before a hospital stay.
- Talk to your parents and kids about the kind of care you would want if something were to happen to you and you could not decide for yourself the care you need. Consider as well whether you would want hospice care, which Medicare covers.
- Pick someone whom you trust to make decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself, your “health care proxy.”
- Complete a written health care proxy and living will, and share them with the person you have chosen to make decisions on your behalf, your family and loved ones, as well as with your doctors. You might also consider giving your health care proxy a power of attorney. You should consult an elder care lawyer if you can. For a free advance directive from Caring Connections, click here.
Click here for advice from Dr. Atul Gawande about planning for end-of-life care.