To start planning your care, first identify what things are important to you in your life.
Try completing these sentences and answering these questions:
The things you value are important to tell your doctor about. Make sure your family members know, too.
All adults should prepare for end-of-life care. This is similar to writing a will and includes:
Durable power of attorney for health care. You should pick one or more individuals to make decisions for you if you are not able to make your own choices. The health care surrogate or “durable power of attorney for health care” should understand your basic values and know what conditions you want to avoid. Should we distinguish between POA for matters other than healthcare?
Advance directive. An advance directive usually contains the name or names of the durable power of attorney or health care surrogate. It is a legal document that must be signed, and the signature witnessed. Advance directives also permit you to state the kind of care you want or do not want under possible conditions. All states have advance directives, which can be found online. You can also get them from your state government . Lawyers can also help people write advance directives.
Several tools help people think about this sort of planning:
Aging With Dignity, a non-profit group, created Five Wishes. Five Wishes walks people through the following issues:
1. The person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t.
2. The kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want.
3. How comfortable I want to be.
4. How I want people to treat me.
5. What I want my loved ones to know.
The Five Wishes document is a legal advance directive in 42 states and the District of Columbia when signed and witnessed.
The Conversation Project offers a free online tool, and booklets that you can download and print to help people talk with family or others about their values and priorities and plan for care at the end of life.