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What Is Advance Care Planning?

All adults can benefit by considering what their healthcare choices would be if they were unable to speak for themselves. It’s important to have an advance care planning conversation with your loved ones so they will know what medical care you desire. Regardless of your age or health, documenting your wishes today means your loved ones won’t have to make difficult decisions later.

Decision Guidance

To guide you in these discussions, consider the following, adapted from the advance care planning workbook “Five Wishes”:

  • Who do you want to make healthcare decisions for you when 
you can’t make them?
  • What kind of medical treatment do you want (or not want)?
  • How comfortable do you want to be?
  • How do you want people to treat you?
  • What do you want your loved ones to know?

These decisions can be written down in an “advance directive” so that others know what they are. Advance directives come in two main forms:

  • A “healthcare power of attorney” (or “proxy” or “agent” or “surrogate”) documents the person you select to be your voice for healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • A “living will” documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.

The Federal Patient
Self-Determination Act

This law requires that all Medicare-participating healthcare facilities inquire about and provide information to patients on Advance Directives; it also requires these facilities to provide community education on Advance Directives. All healthcare facilities are required to:

  • Provide information about healthcare decision-making rights
  • Ask all patients if they have an advance directive
  • Educate their staff and community about advance directives
  • Not discriminate against patients based on an advance directive status
Note: The Indiana POST form is a standardized form containing orders by a treating physician based on a patient’s preferences for end-of-life care.