Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you. If you haven’t considered an Advance Care Planning (otherwise known as ACP) in your life plan, you should do so now. ACP is important for everyone regardless if you are healthy, with conditions or critical illness. At any age, a medical crisis may leave you incapable of voicing out your own decisions.
Even if you are hale and hearty now, planning for your care in the future is an important step toward making sure your personal decisions are made known if you’re unable to speak for yourself and doctors or family members are making the decisions for you.
In this article, we will explain what ACP is, the types of decisions you need to consider and questions you could think of now so you’re better prepared later. ACP will help you consider who you would want to make decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated and how to start a conversation about your wishes. Clarifying who you want to as your substitute decision-maker and how you would decide on various decisions will be helpful in taking some of the burden off your family.
What Is Advance Care Planning?
Advance Care Planning is a process that support individuals at any age or stage of health in understanding and sharing their personal values, life goals, and preferences regarding their future; be it medical & healthcare, finances, lifestyle and family.
These are your decisions to make and they should be based on discussions with your loved ones, as the purpose of ACP is to help ensure you receive care and attention that is consistent with what you want.
ACP is an ongoing, values-directed discussion about your choices and being clear of your expectations. Hence, conversations between yourself, family members, substitute decision-maker, healthcare providers and other agents (such as financial advisors, etc.) to describe the roles of each party, how your legal and financial matters should be handled, as well as how you would like to be cared for are a very important.
Some of the areas that needs to be discussed could include, but are not limited to:
|Medical & Healthcare
What treatments should or should not be implemented?
In what circumstances should treatments be applied or stopped?
What measures of comfort care (e.g. pain management) would you desire in specific situations?
What type of care support and facility (e.g. home care, nursing home, etc.) do you want if you’re incapacitated or disabled?
Do you have a preference in healthcare providers?
|End of life care
Under what conditions should you not be resuscitated?
Where would you choose to spend your last moments?
What are your values and beliefs?
|Legal & Finance
What assets do you have which could be used to support your care?
What legal documents do you need to protect money allocated for care?
The matters addressed in ACP are deeply personal and are based on your values and beliefs. Hence, it is essential to think and discuss what is important to you. These conversations will bring relieve to your loved ones and provide clarity on what you want.
Typically, planning an ACP involves 4 steps that cycles:
- Thinking about your priorities and possible future circumstances (e.g. a family history of cancer),
- Discussing your wishes with your loved ones,
- Making plans to accommodate your wishes with your health providers and other agents,
- Reviewing your ACP consistently to ensure your plans and priorities are updated.
You can begin by asking yourself what makes life meaningful to you? Is your main desire to have the most days of life or focus on your quality of life? Depending on your age, your decisions on how to handle these matters could be significantly different. Hence, you should constantly review your objectives and how you could sustain them.
Legal & Financial Planning
As we live longer, the possibility of having some form of health issue is inevitable and care is likely required. Here, financial planning is crucial to ensure not only the management of your finances as you age, but to mitigate your vulnerability towards financial abuse.
Consider how you want your financial assets to be handled; what assets should be liquidated to support your care if you’re incapacitated or dedicated to an activity if you’re disabled? What assets would you retain in a will? Who is your assigned gatekeeper to ensure your money is where it should be and spent on the right necessities?
Financial abuse has been found to be more common than other types of abuse (e.g. physical, psychological, etc.) amongst older adults in Malaysia. Hence, it is important to know what legal tools are available to ensure your money is handled in the manner you’ve specified and hold your substitute decision-maker accountable.
Prepared For Tomorrow
You can’t predict the future with certainty. You may never face a situation where you’re unable to voice out your decisions. However, with ACP you and your loved ones will have some measure of security and direction in the event of a crisis.
If you wish to learn more about Advance Care Planning and ACP advisory services, you may contact 03 – 2142 1666 or visit http://cn.agedcare.com.my/acp-advisory/to enquire or make an appointment.