What Is Advance Care Planning and Why Is It Important?

We believe it’s important for your choices to be honored.

But in order for them to be honored, you first have to let them be known.

Advance care planning is vital to not only express your wishes when you are unable to do so, but to give your loved ones a “roadmap” to ensure that they understand what you want and need.

It’s important to be sure your advance care plans are in place. We’ll take a look at these plans, why they are important and how you can get started.

What Is Advance Care Planning?

Advance care planning is a way of making your health care decisions known if you were unable to express them yourself. Advance care planning is not just for seniors—they are for anyone who wants the assurance that their wishes will be carried out in a time of sickness or crisis.

The time to have an advance care plan in place is before an emergency or illness occurs.

What Does Advance Care Planning Involve?

There are several aspects of advance care planning, these include:

An advance directive is a legal document that details your wishes, and it only goes into effect if you are incapacitated or unable to make your desires known.

There are two main elements of an advance directive. These are a living will and health care durable power of attorney. We’ll take a closer look at these two documents.

What Is a Living Will?

If you are unable to make your own decisions about emergency treatment—or if you are unconscious permanently—a living will provide details for doctors and health care workers. These details cover how you would like to be treated, particularly if you are dying.

A living will also expresses your feelings about various life-saving techniques that doctors and health care workers may use to keep you alive. These include:

  • CPR
  • Placing you on a ventilator
  • Providing a feeding tube
  • Providing hydration in the form of IV fluids

Your living will should let your loved ones know which of these techniques you would like and which ones you would not.

Living wills can also help your family with other questions that may arise at the end-of-life. These may deal with:

  • DNR (do not resuscitate) orders
  • Tissue and organ donation

What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

If you are unable to make decisions, this document names a health care proxy—ideally someone who is familiar with your wishes and desires either for health care treatment or to decline treatment. One of the advantages of having a health care proxy is that it can also come into effect if you are in an unexpected health care crisis, such as a serious car accident.

How Do I Start My Advance Care Planning?

According to the North Carolina Medical Society, there are several things you should remember when starting your advance care planning. An advance directive must meet four main requirements:

  1. It must be written—it can NOT be verbal.
  2. It must be signed while you are able to communicate your health care needs.
  3. It must be witnessed by two qualified adults.
  4. It must be notarized.

When selecting witnesses, it’s important to know that these witnesses can NOT be:

  • Your physician
  • A relative
  • Anyone who would inherit after your death
  • A paid employee of your physician
  • A paid employee of the healthcare system where you are seeking treatment

Advance directive health care forms are available for download through the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office.

More information on advance directives can be found in this booklet made possible through the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance.

Coastal Pointe Provides the Resources You Need for Worry-free Living

We respect your decisions and your rights. We believe a part of those is the right to live as independently as possible. Sure, we know you may need a helping hand now and again—and we’re glad to help–but the ultimate goal of assisted living is to enhance your quality of life without worrying about the headache of home maintenance.

At Coastal Pointe, we provide a wealth of activities and events at one of Brunswick County’s newest assisted living communities.

We’re different from many similar facilities—starting from the fact that we are family owned and operated. We’re proud to have a vested interest in our community, and when you need assistance, you won’t be dealing with a faceless corporation covered in red tape.

We treat our residents like family because, in so many ways, they are.

Want to learn more? Review out our valuable checklist for your transition to Coastal Pointe. You can also contact us for more information or to schedule a virtual tour.