Why an advance care plan is so important

Why an advance care plan is so important

An advance care plan helps you do the job of discovering, clarifying, and communicating what is important to you towards the end of your life. You can download one here.

Ninety percent of us say that talking about our end of life wishes with a loved one is important, yet only 27 percent of us have actually done so, according to a survey conducted a few years ago by The Conversation Project. Our silence is not without cause. This topic is hugely challenging to contemplate, let alone plan and discuss.

Despite the difficulty, having a written record of our end of life wishes removes an enormous decision-making burden from our loved ones, not to mention mitigating against potential conflicts around what would be best.

None of this is easy as it’s tough to imagine that one day we won’t be healthy

Making end-of-life care decisions can be difficult and painful, but proactive end-of-life planning allows us to live more purposefully in the present. It allows us to appreciate relationships, realise goals for the future, and clarify what is important should we become very ill.

Having an advance care plan is also an empowering tool to make sure you live in accordance to your own values, all the way to the end. But this can only happen if you know your end-of-life preferences and share them with your loved ones. Completing documents without the associated meaningful conversations with loved ones falls short of the goal. Talking with your loved ones openly and honestly, before a medical crisis happens, gives everyone a shared understanding about what matters most to you at the end of life. The Conversation Project website is an excellent resource.

None of this is easy as it’s tough to imagine that one day we won’t be healthy; and talking about death, dying and end-of-life issues is sometimes a bit of a taboo in our society. Many people have negative feelings around death, but one way to cope is to prepare. We can’t always control the circumstances, but we can control how we live, and how we plan. We can prevent our loved ones from having to make difficult decisions without guidance from us.

An advance care plan, like the one you can download below, will ask you to consider things like:
> Who do I want to talk to about this? My family? Particular people in my family? A close friend? My doctor?
> If I can’t speak for myself, who do I want to speak on my behalf?
> What do I value most in terms of my mental and physical health?
> What abilities are so critical that I can’t imagine living without these abilities?
> What would I be prepared to put up with in order to have more time?
> If my illness is likely to result in my death what are my worries about the experience of dying?
> What would I want to make dying more comfortable and peaceful?

We like the advance care plan compiled by the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa.
And also the template from The Association of Palliative Care Practitioners of South Africa (Palprac)

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