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Advance Care Planning

Many people are not aware that if decisions are not made in advance of aging, illness, an accident, or some other crisis, the decision will be made for them by medical professionals.  In fact, lack of awareness is cited as one of the most common reasons that people do not participate in advance care planning which can lead to treatment decisions that a person does not want.[1]  Another danger is that people don’t give the time and attention needed to advance care planning so that their wishes are either not known about, unavailable, too ambiguous, or too generic for medical decision making to happen.[2]

Advance care planning is important for adults of all ages and includes identifying at least one person as your healthcare agent who knows your healthcare wishes and getting this communicated to your medical providers via an advance care planning tool.  Recommended advance care planning tools include a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (also known as Advance Directives) and Providers Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) but not living wills which leave both the interpretation and decision making authority open to medical professionals and not your healthcare agent.[3]  Healthcare professionals from LB Homes, like those in other healthcare organizations, can help you assess your advance care planning goals, evaluate which advance care planning tools are appropriate, and help you discern appropriate interventions and resources based on your goals.

[1] Lack of Awareness Continues to be a Barrier for Americans in Making Medical Wishes Known. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, accessed 11-23-16, http://www.nhpco.org/press-room/press-releases/new-study-advance-directives.

[2] Tonelli, 1996; Fagerlin, & Schneider, 2004; Kirschner, 2005; Wu, Lorenz, & Chodosh, 2008, Respecting Choices Advance Care Planning Manual, Gunderson Health System, Pg 9.

[3] The Basics on Advance Directives. Lutherans for Life, accessed 4-12-17, http://www.lutheransforlife.org.