Advance Care Planning
Four out of five Americans will not die
suddenly, and when they are unable to tell us what kind of care they
want to receive, families face tremendous stresses, critical decisions
must be made, emotions run high, and conflicts between family members
Americans find it difficult to think about the end of life. Yet,
planning ahead gives individuals control over future medical
treatments and can lessen the burden on their loved ones.
Advance Care Planning lets YOU decide what
kind of healthcare you will receive - while you are still healthy and
free of crisis or pressure, and your family members will have a clear
guide to follow if you become seriously ill.
Tips for communicating
wishes about end-of-life care:
Prepare a "living will."
This document guides family members and doctors in deciding how
aggressively to use medical treatments intended to delay death.
It usually spells out which interventions a person would want or
refuse, such as cardio-pulmonary resuscitation or mechanical
ventilation. A living will may also be called a "directive to
physicians," "health care declaration" or "medical directive."
Choose a health care agent.
A "medical power of attorney"
allows individuals to designate someone who can make decisions on
their behalf should they become unable to communicate. Other
names for this document include "health care proxy," "appointment of
a health care agent" or "durable power of attorney for health care."
Review these documents with family
members and doctors. This
is also a good opportunity to discuss emotional and spiritual care.
People often find it comforting to be surrounded by loved ones and
clergy near the end of life. They may want to hear Bible
verses or listen to soft music. Each person has different
For information on completing a living
will or medical power of attorney, call Hospice of the Prairie at
620-227-7209. The documents can be downloaded from the National
Hospice and Palliative Care Organization web site (www.nhpco.org)
or you can order a copy to be mailed to you by calling 1-800-658-8898.
These documents can be prepared at home.