Most seniors will experience some medical event that requires a decision about what type of care they would like to receive. But what happens when the senior isn’t able to decide at the moment care is needed? That’s where advanced care planning can come into play.
What Is Advanced Care Planning?
Advanced care planning is developing an informed plan about what care a senior wants to receive in the future. Advanced care planning ensures that a senior's wishes are honored and that they can make a decision about their care when the time comes.
The first step in advanced care planning is learning the types of care decisions that may need to be made in the future. These decisions often revolve around emergency treatment that a care professional may need to save or continue the senior's life, such as:
- Ventilator use
- Artificial nutrition
- Artificial hydration
- CPR (resuscitation)
Seniors can develop plans to govern family members and medical professionals if a medical emergency happens. Advanced planning can also address preferences with comfort care, hospice care, or any other care that must be administered at the end of life.
Why Should Seniors Partake in Advanced Care Planning?
Advanced care planning ensures that seniors get the care and senior services of their choosing, regardless of whether they can make a decision. Seniors should be able to make critical decisions about the care they receive.
Unfortunately, when a medical emergency arises, seniors are not always conscious or in a position to articulate a preference. In these situations, the advanced care plan is in place to direct medical professionals on what to do. The plan ensures that seniors get the care they want.
Advanced care planning also avoids last-minute decisions or decisions made by family members during stress.
Types of Advanced Care Documents
Several documents may be used in the advanced care planning process. Understanding the differences between them is essential to ensure the plan is executed as intended.
Power of Attorney
Power of attorney is a legal document where a senior gives a representative the authority to make decisions on their behalf, including medical decisions. The representative does not have to be an attorney but rather should be a representative that the senior trusts to make decisions that are in their best interests.
Durable Power of Attorney
Like a regular power of attorney document, a durable power of attorney is a legal document that names someone to make decisions on behalf of the senior. The primary difference is the power remains in effect even when the senior becomes incapacitated or unable to make decisions for themselves.
In these situations, the representative can make medical decisions on behalf of the senior.
When it comes to appointing Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney, it is not uncommon for seniors to give specific authority to one representative to make one decision over another.
For example, seniors could appoint a medical power of attorney that gives authority to a representative to make medical decisions only. They could also appoint another representative to make financial-related decisions with a financial power of attorney.
How to Start Preparing
The first step in advanced care planning is learning what types of decisions you may face down the road. A medical professional or planning counselor can help you identify situations you may need to plan. Seniors should carefully consider what decisions they want to include in their plans.
Once those decisions have been made, seniors should work with an attorney to draft the legal documents necessary to ensure their decisions are followed. The Department of Public Health provides resources and guides for seniors interested in learning more about planning.
Senior Care with Pine Haven Christian Communities
Pine Haven Christian Communities has been a guiding light for seniors for over 70 years. Our commitment to providing top-notch care and services has helped countless seniors live their best lives. We have been with our residents every step of the way as they plan for their golden years.
Our continuing care services include independent living, supportive independent living, assisted living, and memory care. With four campuses in Sheboygan Falls and Oostburg, Wisconsin, we can provide comprehensive care for seniors in the area.
If you or a loved one are in need of long-term care, we invite you to contact us to learn more about how we can help. Our dedicated team is here to support you and provide the care and services you need to thrive. We look forward to speaking with you!
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and provides general information on advanced care planning. It is important to note that advanced care planning is a complex and personal matter, and it is recommended that individuals seek professional advice before making any decisions.