National Health Care Decisions Day is Thursday, April 16. There is no better time to put your advance care plan in place.
Below is a reprint of our recent article with tips from Howard Hoffman, one of CVHHH’s Medical Social Worker, pictured, to help get you started with your advance care plan.
Need help taking the first step? Have questions about a section of the advance directive or health care agent form? We are here to help. Ask Howard Hoffman your questions. Click here to send Howard an email.
There may come a time when you are unable to speak for yourself. The best way to ensure that your wishes are honored is to talk with those closest to you and to your health care providers about what matters most. The result of these conversations is an advance care plan, which functions like a guide that helps others know what you want well in advance of your health declining. Here are three tips from Howard to help you get started.
Think about what you want Do I want to go to the hospital and be treated regardless of outcome? What are my goals if my health declines? What does a good day look like? What matters most? Howard asks his clients these questions to help them develop plans that feel right at the moment. It’s like a map of a person’s wishes for their family and health care team.
Explore and prepare Get to know your care options, such as hospice, and talk to your family about your fears and anxieties. Howard recommends having these conversations when you are well. If you wait until you become sick, there is more emotion and decision making is often more difficult. In Howard’s experience, the earlier you have these discussions, the better your outcomes and the more likely it is that your wishes are honored.
Take the first step and identify your person This could be a friend or a loved one. It’s the individual who knows you best. Describe what you want, share your wishes, and ask them to help. Then, fill out the Health Care Agent form. Next is the Vermont Advance Directive for Health Care (AD) where you will document detailed information about your health care goals and treatment priorities. Follow the instructions on the AD to register the form and ensure that your family and health care team have copies. Most important, says Howard, don’t wait to do this work.
The Advance Planning Process in Depth We talked with the Vermont Ethics Network’s Cindy Bruzzese about the three steps you need to take to complete your advance care plan. Plus, click to listen to CVHHH’s Emily McKenna and Cindy chatting about the importance of advance care planning with WDEV’s Dave Gram.
Advance Care Planning FAQs Answers to the most common questions about the advance care planning process