Advance Care Planning: Getting Started

Many people may not know about advance care planning and how everyone over age 18 needs to make important decisions about their future medical care. Some people may think it is only for individuals who are older, ill or at the end of their lives. The truth is that advance care planning is an important process that helps you make decisions about the medical care you want and who can speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself.

There’s a saying “It’s too soon…until it’s too late.” No matter your current health status, it’s important to consider these crucial decisions ahead of time and let your loved ones know about them. As a part of your advance care planning, you can document your decisions and preferences in an advanced directive. This legal document names your health care agent, the person you choose to speak for you and act on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. The advance directive also contains a Living Will that documents your decisions about the use of emergency treatments that can possibly keep you alive. These decisions relate to when or whether you will receive treatments such as CPR, ventilation, artificial nutrition and hydration, and pain medications.

An important reason to complete an advance directive is to make sure that your loved ones are not burdened by uncertainty when called upon to make tough decisions about your medical care. Completing an advance directive is not a complicated or expensive process. Following is a list of online resources and tools to help you complete an advance directive.  Click 
here to download resource list.

Advance Care Planning Resources

The Conversation Project

Five Wishes

Maryland Attorney General Advance Directives

Maryland MOLST

Montgomery County Palliative Care and End-of-Life Coalition

National Health Decisions Day

Prepare for Your Care (English and Spanish)

Respecting Choices

Speak (easy) Howard

Hello Game

For more information or to request an educational session through Hospice Caring, Inc. to increase awareness about advance directives, please contact Leigh Bluestein atleighb@hospicecaring.orgor 301-990-7927.

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