Advance care planning; how do you want to LIVE?

Advance Care Planning (ACP); Conversations typically associated with death and dying, however this perception is not doing the public many favors… An Advance Care Plan should really be viewed in a more positive light where by acknowledging how someone wants to LIVE as well as the wishes they may have around end of life.

Start the conversation

It is important to remember that an ACP is not a will, nor an advance directive. It is a conversation and document that all adults should consider having, not just those who might be sick. I have one myself at the ripe old age of 29!

Naturally, it is only once we become ill or elderly that this type of thinking begins. Which is why thinking about how you would like to live might make the concept a bit easier to digest at a younger and healthier age. These important discussions can be transposed from conversation into a living document that provides family members and healthcare workers the insight to some of the things that are important to YOU.

This becomes important in the instance where you may not be able to speak for yourself; your family and healthcare team can then consider your ACP to help guide decision-making. 

Living document? 

What do you mean by “living document”? A living document is a document whereby an individual can change and update the content as they wish too. Naturally in life, circumstances and priorities might change and your ACP can be updated to represent these changes.

What would you want?

One topic which can often foster opposing views within families and medical teams, is the decision-making around whether to provide someone with alternative feeding like a nasogastric tube, or a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG), if their swallowing has become unsafe for oral intake.

Families quite often push for any medical intervention that might keep their loved one alive, even if it is something the individual may not have necessarily chosen for them self. For some the thought of having a tube for nutritional and hydration requirements would be happily accepted if it meant being able to see their daughter graduate in a years time for example, and for others with different priorities and life stages the opposite might be so.

Eating and drinking plays such a huge role in people’s lives, and to have that taken away, for some people, it might not be worth it. For these people an ‘at risk’ feeding plan might be more appropriate.

Consider an ACP

In any case, having an opinion written down can give the people making the decision more idea of what you would want. This is just one example scenario of how an ACP can be important. Consider one for yourself, and for those you love.

If you’re interested in finding out more or starting a conversation that counts then head over to the website below or talk to your GP:

http://www.advancecareplanning.org.nz/

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