Advance Care Planning Over the Holidays

As you gather with loved ones this holiday season, seize the opportunity to ensure you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your care.  

We at NHPCO are here to help you make informed decisions and take the steps to make sure your wishes are followed at end of life.  

Start the Conversation

Discussing and determining your preferences for health care is called Advance Care Planning. Advance Care Planning is a process, not an event. Through this process, you plan for future care based on your values, beliefs, preferences, and specific medical issues.  

An advance directive is the record of that process. It is both an umbrella term for defining and expressing how one wants to live and be treated and for the state approved advance directive documents which allow you to specify those things. These documents usually also allow you to appoint someone (healthcare power of attorney) to speak when you are unable to speak for yourself.  

The purpose of any advance directive is to enable you to speak for yourself, and to let other people know what choices you have made, and what is important to you. It is a really good idea to speak to those close to you as you are preparing your advance directive. You are only half done until you discuss and share your advance directive with others, and store your document in a safe and accessible place.

Document Your Wishes 

The first steps in preparing an advance directive are to think about what is important to you, to talk with your loved ones, and to inform them about your health. Armed with this information, you can make choices about your future treatment and share them with others, both in person and in writing. After creating your advance directive, you can find the best way to store and retrieve your advance directive as necessary.  

Many states have different forms which constitute an Advance Directive. Make sure you are aware of the forms which are enforceable in your state. Find the appropriate documentation for you.  

Learn more about end-of-life care options, advance care planning, advance directives, and more at Caring Info

Advocate for Advance Care Planning

While many people begin advance care planning around the kitchen table with their families; professional health care providers can also facilitate these conversations. 

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Hospice Action Network(HAN), are pleased to support the Improving Access to Advance Care Planning Act(S. 4873/H.R. 8840).

This bill will take crucial next steps to expand access to advance care planning by allowing social workers to facilitate advance care planning conversations, and removing beneficiary cost-sharing for advance care planning. The bill will also improve reporting of barriers to advance care planning, and increase education for providers on coding for advance care planning visit.  

Making advance care planning an approachable conversation for more Americans will ensure that more of us get the care we need – and want – when we are most vulnerable. 

Call on your Members of Congress to support the Improving Access to Advance Care Planning Act. 

As you approach these conversations this holiday season, remember that advance care planning is a process, it’s ok not to have all the answers right now, and your preferences may evolve over time.  Be sure to revisit these decisions periodically. It isn’t easy, but your family will thank you.