It is never too early to make your wishes known. If you have an accident or serious illness, who would make decisions for you? Advance care planning means making decisions about the healthcare you would want if you were facing a medical crisis and are unable to communicate for yourself.
It is best to complete the advance care planning process when you are well, allowing time for you to reflect, consider your values and treatment preferences and talk about them with your family, friends and healthcare providers. After reflection, you need to document your wishes in a legal form. Then, share your advance directive with your family, friends and healthcare providers.
Recently, Joy M. Smith RN, MSN from the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP), one of our partner hospitals, conducted a free advance care planning workshop for Aspire Health Plan members and people in the Monterey County, California community. As part of the reflection process, she recommends that you ask yourself the following questions:
- Who would I trust to speak for me if I can’t speak for myself?
- What is it I value about living?
- What are my wishes for end of life care?
- Who needs copies of my advance healthcare directive?
- What is my plan for reviewing and updating?
- Who else do I need to encourage to complete their planning?
After reflection comes documentation. The 15-page California PREPARE Advance Directive form has three parts:
- Part 1 – choose a medical decision maker
- Part 2 – make your own healthcare choices
- Part 3 – sign the form
Know what resources are available to you here in your community to help with advance care planning. Here is a list of resources in Monterey County, California.
- Free, 45-minute online workshops from the Hospice Giving Foundation (schedule here)
- Free, online Advance Healthcare Planning workshops from the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (schedule here)
- The Hospice Giving Foundation online resource center
- PREPARE™ for Your Care online resource center
- Appointments with trained volunteers from Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (call 831-755-0772 to schedule)
Lastly, make sure that you review your advance care documents periodically – at least annually around the time of your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV). Your health status could change, and you want to make sure that your documents reflect your current preferences.