Advance care planning is a way for you to think about what is important to you and what you value in life, and learning how your values help with making decisions about your healthcare. It also guides you to determine who will be your substitute decision-maker (SDM). This person will make healthcare decisions for you if there is ever a time that you are not able of making them yourself.
If you lose the capacity to make your own healthcare decisions, your SDM will be asked to make decisions for you. Advance care planning is one step in the process of preparing your SDM for this role, by making sure you give them helpful information.
Conversations about advance care planning can lead to a better quality of life for you. It can be very reassuring to know that you will receive the care you would like. And talking about these plans with your family and friends can lessen their future distress and give them greater peace of mind.
Your healthcare providers may talk with you about your wishes, values and beliefs for your future care. They are not trying to scare you. They want to help you think about these things now and allow you to time to share your wishes with your substitute decision-maker in case you become incapable of telling them in the future.
Being capable to make decisions
If you are capable, you can:
- Understand the information you are given about the decision that needs to be made:
- Your medical condition and how it affects your life
- Why your healthcare provider is recommending a treat, medication or plan
- The risks and benefits of saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
- If there are other options
- Appreciate the likely results of saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to a treatment, medication or plan
- How it might help you or harm you
- What will likely happen if you say ‘yes’, or say ‘no’
Start the conversation
Everyone can benefit from advance care planning. If you have health conditions, it is a way for you to learn more about these conditions and how they may affect your life in the future. If you are healthy, starting the conversation about future healthcare decisions will help you determine what would be important to you if you face an unexpected health challenge.