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Advance care planning is an important aspect of the patient-centered care we provide at AtlantiCare. Advance care planning allows you to clearly outline your personal choices about treatment options that take into account your personal values, beliefs, and preferences.
An advance healthcare directive is a legal document. It specifies the types of medical treatment you wish to receive (or not receive) in circumstances when you cannot communicate with medical providers and loved ones.
An important part of your healthcare plan is designating a healthcare agent to make treatment choices on your behalf if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. The person you choose as your agent should be someone you trust to respect your wishes and speak on your behalf.
Completing an advance directive does not mean you will not receive care; it helps care providers tailor medical care to your needs and personal preferences.
A common misbelief about advance care planning is that only older or very sick people need written healthcare directives. However, life can change in a moment for anyone at any age. Traumatic accidents and sudden serious illnesses can happen, even to young people and those in the prime of life.
For this reason, we strongly encourage all adults age 18 and older to prepare an advance healthcare directive and select a healthcare agent. With your treatment preferences clearly established in writing, your medical team will know exactly what care to provide should you ever become critically injured or mentally unresponsive and unable to communicate.
In addition, advance care planning will make a time of uncertainty and urgency less stressful for those closest to you. They’ll have greater peace of mind knowing your wishes and decisions are being carried out as you intended.
Keep the original document for yourself in a safe place. Copies should be given to your regular medical care provider(s), such as your primary care physician, local hospital, nursing home, or hospice.
If you have a family attorney, he or she should receive a copy. If you have named a healthcare agent, this person should also have a copy. You might also consider giving a copy to anyone else close to you who might need to become involved in treatment decisions for you.
We understand circumstances change over time. Your advance healthcare directive may be withdrawn or updated at any time. Discuss these changes with your regular medical care provider(s) or a certified facilitator. They can meet with you to help you update or change your treatment choices or name a different person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
We recommend you review your advance care plan on a regular basis to ensure your healthcare providers have up-to-date information about your treatment choices and personal wishes.
The Advance Care Planning program at AtlantiCare is here to guide you every step of the way through this process. We will help you understand your options and make informed decisions. We’ll also help you navigate the process of making your choices known to loved ones and finding a healthcare agent to represent you.
It’s never too early to plan for your future healthcare.
Call us today to find out more about the Advance Care Planning program at AtlantiCare.