Planning today for tomorrow: Consider an advance directive

April 18, 2016 | by City of Hope

These are difficult questions, to be sure. But important ones that all patients should ask themselves nonetheless: What would happen if one day, you could not make medical decisions on your own? Would your family make the right choices, on your behalf? 

Instead of making your loved ones or health care team guess what you might want, consider an advance directive: An agreement that will guide future plans and health care decisions, should you be unable to make your wishes known.

To help demystify the health care decision-making process and encourage families to start talking about advance care planning, City of Hope offers online information and resources, and this month, will be holding an educational event.

The event is open to the community and will allow participants to consult with advance planning experts, including supportive medicine physicians and clinical social workers. The event will be held at City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, on Thursday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. No R.S.V.P. is necessary. Attendees are invited to drop in any time during the session to learn more, and fill out an advance directive form, if they would like. 

Whether or not you attend, here are five questions to help, from this Breakthroughs article

Why do I need to outline my health decisions in advance?
 
With clear directions about how you want to be treated and what is important to you, your health care team, family and friends won’t have to second-guess what you would have wanted.
 
Who will make decisions about my health if I am unable to?
 
You should designate a health care agent – a relative or friend whom you trust to make medical decisions if you cannot make them yourself.
 
How do I formalize my wishes?
 
There are three types of documents you can use.
  1. Advanced Health Care Directive : These written instructions to your loved ones and medical team explain the type of medical treatment and health care that you would want in the event that you're unable to speak directly with your health care providers.
  2. Durable power of attorney for health care: Also known as a “health care proxy,” this document names another person as your health care agent.
  3. Living will: outlines your preferences for medical treatment if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious and unable to actively take part in making decisions for your own life.
Do I need these documents to ensure my wishes are known?
 
You don’t have to have any of them. But if there’s ever a time when you are unable to speak for yourself, having one or more of them helps ensure that your wishes are known.
 
How can I get the conversation started?
 
It doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming. City of Hope’s supportive care medicine team uses conversation tools to help patients and families make decisions.
 
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Learn more about advance directives and City of Hope's Department of Supportive Care Medicine.
 
For more information about the City of Hope events, please call the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at 626-218-CARE (2273) or email [email protected].
 
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If you are looking for a second opinion or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

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