Advance care planning is making preparations and decisions about the medical care you want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself. Discussing
your wishes with family and healthcare providers ahead of time is key. Letting them know what you prefer before the situation arises will give them peace of mind.
You should choose a person you know well and trust to be your medical power of attorney/healthcare agent. Your agent should understand your wishes and be willing to carry them out. Tell them which life support treatments you may want: mechanical ventilation, feeding tube, dialysis, etc. Would you want a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order to prevent CPR with the cessation of heartbeat or breathing? Do you want these treatments only if there is a chance your condition will improve? Or do you prefer comfort care and pain management through palliative or hospice care?
Once you have chosen your healthcare agent and discussed your wishes, complete a written advanced directive such as a Healthcare Power of Attorney form. Each state has different requirements for advanced directives. You can find information for Illinois at caringinfo.org. You do not need a lawyer to prepare advance directives but you will need witnesses.
Store your advanced directive where someone can get to it if needed. DO NOT keep it in a safe deposit box. Be sure your doctor has a copy and anyone who may be involved with your healthcare.
Wondering when or how to start the conversation with your loved ones? Now is the time. Begin by sharing your wishes before asking them to share theirs. It isn’t easy but it could be one of the most important conversations you ever have. If you have questions about advanced care planning or advanced directives, contact Joliet Area Community Hospice for more information at 815-740-4104. A proud United Way agency.