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Advance Care Plans: Care Instructions

Overview

Advance care planning is a way to think about, plan, and document your wishes for healthcare now and in the future.

Advance Care Planning is for every adult (18 years and older). It’s important for everyone but even more important if you have health issues.

Advance care planning tells your family and doctor your wishes about life support and other medical treatment. As a part of your advance care planning, it is important to appoint a person (called a substitute decision-maker or a health care agent) who can make treatment decisions for you when you can no longer speak for yourself.

If you do not have an advance care plan, decisions about your medical care may be made by someone who doesn't know you or what you would want.

It may help to think of an advance care plan as a gift to the people who care for you. If you have one, they won't have to make tough decisions by themselves.

In Alberta, a personal directive is part of advance care planning. This is a legal document that names a person you trust to make personal and healthcare decisions for you (your agent). In your personal directive you write things such as:

  • the name of your decision maker (agent)
  • your important healthcare decisions
  • where you might want to live
  • what’s important to you

Your personal directive only comes into effect if you’re too sick or injured to make decisions for yourself. It’s important to review your personal directive and make changes (if you need to) any time your health, wishes, or values change.

For more information about advance care planning, please visit: Advance Care Planning Alberta Health Services.

What should you include in an advance care plan?

It may be hard to know what to include in your advance care plan . Use the questions below to help you get started.

  • Who do you want to make decisions about your medical care if you are not able to?
  • What life-support or life-sustaining measures do you want if you have a serious illness that gets worse over time or can't be cured?
  • What are you most afraid of that might happen? (Maybe you're afraid of having pain, losing your independence, or being kept alive by machines.)
  • Where would you prefer to die? (Your home? A hospital? A hospice?)
  • What are your feelings about donating tissue or organs when you die? Have you talked about these feelings with your family?
  • Do you want certain religious practices performed before you die?

When should you call for help?

Be sure to contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter R264 in the search box to learn more about "Advance Care Plans: Care Instructions".

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.