Advance care planning
When you become ill, you have the right to say yes or no to treatment options. But what if you became unable to decide for yourself? Who would speak for you? And would they know what you want and don't want? Take some steps now to make sure your wishes are known.
Where do I start?
One way to make your wishes known is to put them in writing through an advance directive, like the Five Wishes® or Aurora's Power of Attorney for Health Care. An advance directive is a legal document that can be made free of cost. Without this legal document, your health care providers do not know your important medical care decisions such as life-support, pain management or hospice choices.
Why do I need an advance directive?
An advance directive gives you control over your health care decisions and provides the information to the healthcare team for you if you are unable to communicate. It guides the decisions of the health care team and provides comfort to your family, preventing them from guessing what it is that you would want.
When do I need to create an advance directive?
The best time to create an advance directive is before you are sick... when you have clear understanding about your options and can communicate them to your family and doctor.
What happens if I do not have an advance directive?
If you cannot speak for yourself and do not have an advance directive, your health care providers will look to your family or close friends to help make decisions about your care. If they are unsure or cannot agree, a court-appointed guardian may be requested to make the decisions for you.
Which advance directive should I choose?
There are several types of advance directives, including the following.
|The Five Wishes® is a Power of Attorney for Healthcare document that names a person who can make decisions for you if you cannot. This person is chosen by you, and named in the document to make certain that your wishes are followed. The document is easy to understand and comes in 23 languages as well as Braille. The document gives you the opportunity to choose your wishes and allows you to cross out those you do not want by giving clear instructions to follow.|
|Aurora's Power of Attorney for Healthcare document is available in English, Spanish, and Russian. (To download, click on the links in the box above.)|
|A Living Will is also an advance directive, but does not name a person to speak for you. It is a legal document that states your preference for life-support if you are terminally ill or are in a "persistent vegetative state."|
Do I need both a Living Will and a Power of Healthcare Attorney?
No, you do not need both; however, if you have both, the Power of Attorney for Health Care will take precedence.
If I already have a Power of Attorney for Health Care, do I need to complete a new Five Wishes® document as well?
No, it isn't necessary to create a new advance directive... only if you wish to include more information should you make a new advance directive. The old document can be changed or revoked at any time. You can make changes with a new form, writing and addendum, or telling your healthcare provider.
What should I do with it once I have it?
Keep it in a safe place and let your family or others close to you know where they can find it if needed. If you travel, you may wish to take a copy with you. Give a copy to:
- Your health care provider (you'll want to discuss the form and make sure he or she agrees to honor your wishes)
- Your health care agent (named in your Power of Attorney for Health Care)
- Your family or others close to you
- Your lawyer if you have one
- The clinic or hospital where you go for care (for your medical record)
If I need HELP filling out a Five Wishes, whom can I call?
Ask your health care provider or call 1-888-863-5502 to find out how an Aurora Health Care facilitator can help you.
For further information on advance directives go to Aging with Dignity.