Advance care planning is a process of thinking about and sharing your wishes for future health care. The good news is you don’t need to have all the answers to begin and you don’t have to plan for every possibility!
Talking with your loved ones and health care providers is the best way to make sure your voice is at the center of your health care.
The sections below can help you think and talk about your wishes, or start a conversation with a loved one.
Your own experiences with health care can help you decide what you would want for your health care in the future.
What did you learn when friends or family became ill or hurt and were in the hospital or needed health care?
What did you learn from those experiences? What did you like? What did you dislike?
- Best Days
Thinking about what your happiest memories can show what is important to you.
What happens during those best days?
What brings you joy or comfort?
Cultural, religious, and spiritual beliefs can inform future health care.
What provides you support, comfort, and strength during difficult times?
What do you want others to know about your beliefs and practices?
- What if…
Sudden accidents or events can happen to anyone at any time.
What if you couldn’t make medical decisions for yourself? What if you couldn’t tell others what you wanted?
What medical care would you want to keep you alive?
- Think about…
Think about this sentence: What matters to me at the end of life …
(for example, being able to recognize my family, being in the hospital with excellent nursing care, being able to say goodbye to the ones I love.)
Sharing your “what matters to me” statement with your loved ones could be a big help down the road. It could help them communicate to your doctor what abilities are most important to you – what’s worth pursuing treatment for, and what isn’t.
This “what matters to me” statement and other helpful tips for starting the conversation can be found in The Conversation Project’s conversation starter kit.
Honoring Choices PNW offers trained Advance Care Planning Facilitators across the state of Washington who can help you have the conversation with your loved ones. To find a resource near you click here.
Once you have thought about your wishes, it is important to write them down in a legal document. In this document you can write down your wishes for health care and choose who you want to make health care decisions for you if you cannot.