The Gift of Being Prepared: Make Choices Now with Advance Care Planning

The Gift of Being Prepared: Make Choices Now with Advance Care Planning

Feb 05 2021

Your personal values, preferences and beliefs should always guide decisions about your medical treatment. But a serious illness or sudden accident could keep you from making those wishes known.

Nobody wants to imagine dealing with an accident or illness, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But the reality is — just like having car, home or health insurance to protect yourself and your investments — having an Advanced Care Plan on file is the responsible thing to do to protect your personal health wishes and give your family peace of mind. You may not consider Advance Care Planning a priority — thinking that it’s only for the very ill or those nearing the end of their life. But, life can take unexpected turns at any point — and at any age.

An unexpected health crisis or accident can happen and if you can’t speak for yourself, your medical team will have to make their best guess about how far to go with your treatment. By planning ahead, you can guide future health care decisions based on your preferences.

It’s important to note that even if you don’t need it right away, down the road an Advanced Care Plan can be a true gift for your family, spouse, partner or main caregiver. Thoughtfully considering and documenting your wishes in an Advance Care Plan can minimize confusion and uncertainty. It can provide peace of mind to your loved ones during a time when stress and emotions will be high for them as they worry about your health and recovery. They shouldn’t also be tasked with the added stress of trying to figure out what treatments you would choose or other serious health care decisions you would make.

Ready to get started? Here is some helpful information and resources for Advanced Care Planning.

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Who needs an Advance Care Plan?

Every adult ages 18+ should have a plan that’s properly documented and saved — before they need it. And it should be reviewed and updated periodically.

What is included in an Advance Care Plan?

A formal plan has three specific steps to ensure your wishes are both known and respected.

  1. Choose your advocate.

Your advocate is the person you trust to make care decisions. This person only speaks for you if you cannot speak for yourself. This could be your spouse or partner, a parent, child or other family member, or a close friend. It should be someone you trust and are able to share your advance care plan with when final.

  1. Capture your preferences in an Advance Directive.

An Advance Directive provides documentation of your choices. It outlines what is important to you, relieving others of the burden of not knowing.

  1. Communicate your wishes.

Make sure your plan is available and:

  • Keep a copy in your home
  • Provide a copy to your advocate
  • Share it with your primary care doctor (your physician(s) and your medical team)

You may also register your Advance Directive documents to the Community Health Record — a secure repository where providers across the state can access your plan if needed.

Who can help me with Advanced Care Planning?

There are many resources available to help ensure your plans are properly completed and readily available. Health care network websites are excellent sources of advance care planning assistance.

Examples include:

The Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN) provides:

  • Free materials and trained facilitators to help guide your care planning conversations and documentation
  • Plan registration in the Community Health Record

Community resources:

  • Elder care attorneys
  • Faith-based organizations

What to do if there are concerns about your directive not being followed.

If you signed an Advance Directive and believe that a doctor or hospital hasn’t followed your instructions, you may file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Health Professions Allegations Section at 800.882.6006.

If you’re a Priority Health member, for a complete list of your rights and responsibilities under a Priority Health Medicare plan, including your right to use advance directives, see Section 9 of your Evidence of Coverage booklet.

Remember, it’s never too early for Advanced Care Planning. Your family or whoever you choose as an advocate will be grateful for this gift of being prepared if the time comes that they may need it. The peace of mind you will both have with having a plan in place is worth the effort.

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