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Advance Care Planning

Topic Overview

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is a way to help you think about, talk about, and document your wishes for healthcare. It’s a process that can help you make healthcare decisions now and for the future.

What are the benefits?

If there’s a time when you aren’t able to speak for yourself, it’s important that your loved ones and your healthcare team understand your wishes for healthcare.

None of us know what tomorrow might bring, or know how our health will be in the future. Planning today makes sure that your wishes are known, no matter what the future holds.

Advance care planning may bring comfort and peace of mind to you, your family, and to those who may have to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Who is it for?

Everyone. We can all benefit from advance care planning. If there’s an unexpected event or change in your health and you aren’t able to make decisions about your healthcare, planning ahead makes sure that your wishes are known.

When is a good time to start?

Now. It’s important to start talking about your wishes now, before you have a health crisis.

“I want my family to know my feelings about my future health care. That way, if they’re faced with making decisions on my behalf they’ll have peace of mind.”

Imagine that you’re badly injured in a car crash. You’re in the hospital intensive care unit and aren’t able to communicate. Your heartbeat and breathing can only continue with the help of machines and medicine (artificial support). Your doctors believe you likely won’t recover.

Imagine that you’re not able to make decisions for yourself anymore. You no longer know who you are, who your family members are, or what happens from one moment to the next. You will never be able to communicate meaningfully with others.

Imagine you have an illness that’s getting worse despite treatment and you’re nearing the end of your life.

Current as of: April 2, 2018

Author: Palliative and End of Life Care Team, Alberta Health Services