What is Advance Care Planning?
We like to think that we will always be healthy, independent and able to make decisions for ourselves; however things can change suddenly. We might have an
accident or a serious illness and no longer be able to speak for ourselves. When that happens, doctors often turn to our loved ones to speak for us. If your loved ones were asked, would will they know what care you would want?
Talking with your physicians and loved ones now will help you plan for future medical needs, and is the best way to ensure that your medical wishes will be respected. Once you start talking, don’t feel that you need to get everything done at once; it helps to see this as a process. Even after you have made your wishes known, these wishes may change over time. Once you’ve started, it will be easier to talk about changes or related issues in the future.
Keep in mind that other family members and loved ones need to understand your wishes. Depending on how close they may be geographically or
emotionally, this can be challenging. You are encouraged to talk to your loved ones one at a time or at a family gathering. The more those close to you are aware of your wishes, the more likely those wishes will be carried out should an illness or injury ever occur.
As you reflect and decide upon your wishes, we encourage you to write them down in an Advance Health Care Directive document.
For a list of forms in English, Spanish and Chinese, please look at our Forms and Documents page.
For more detailed information, please download our Advanced Care
If you have a serious, life-limiting illness or are medically frail, you might also want to consider asking your doctor about a form known as Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).
Information provided by the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (CCCC).