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Making Advance Health Care Decisions – Getting Started

Have you thought about what medical care you would like to receive in the event you become unable to express your wishes?  More importantly, have you shared those thoughts with loved ones and your medical professionals?  Like making your Will, planning for future incapacity can be difficult, and discussing it with your loved ones may be uncomfortable.    But this is one area where it is very much a case of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.  Discussions with your loved ones clearly setting out your wishes on the types of medical care you wish to receive will not only lessen the likelihood of conflict amongst your loved ones, but will also allow them to make hard decisions knowing the decision is truly in keeping with your wishes.

The hardest part may simply be getting started.  Fortunately, the BC government has a comprehensive step by step resource available, including an easy to follow guide with workbook.

The guide includes practical advice and specific examples to use as a starting point for your considerations and discussions.  While the larger decisions such as when or whether to refuse life support are included, so are other considerations such as the environment that would help you be comfortable (open windows, music playing, family nearby, etc.).  The guide includes a basic discussion of three advance care planning options: Representation Agreements, Advance Directives, and Enduring Powers of Attorney.  These are all documents that record your advance care decisions in written form.  The workbook included in the guide (beginning at page 26) contains worksheets for you to complete and then share with your loved ones, as well as precedents of certain advance care options.

This resource provided by the BC government is an excellent place to start considering you advance health care plan, and I encourage you to do so.