Making Decisions Today For Your Care Tomorrow
If you need help completing your Advance Directives call the Caregiver Resource Line 1-888-737-7494 or at azcaregiver.org
At some point in time, we will all need a plan to receive the care we want. Advance care planning helps you prepare for the unknown. If we are unable to make decisions tomorrow, our loved ones and doctors will know what steps to take, or not take.
5 Steps to Advance Care Planning
Gaining Peace of Mind for You and Your Family
Thoughtful Life Conversations (TLC) has developed a 5-step process to walk you through what you need to do to secure your advance care plan. It is important to know that at any time, you can change your mind and update your wishes for future care.
5 Steps to Creating Your Advance Care Plan:
1. Reflect on what matters most in life. Ask yourself these questions :
When I think about the last phase of my life, what matters to me most?
What gives my life meaning and worth?
Is it more important to: Live as long as possible even with pain or physical or mental limitations?
Stop treatments if I am suffering?
Focus on quality of life and comfort even if my life is shorter?
2. Discuss with your doctor and loved ones. Now that you’ve thought about what matters to you most, share your thoughts. Let your loved ones know this topic is important to you, expect a little resistance, and that you’re simply preparing for the future (not for today). In preparation for meeting with your doctor, write down your questions and let the doctor know you have this line of questioning. Also, bring someone with you and ask about the benefits, risks and options of different treatments.
3. Document your wishes. Anyone 18 and older is encouraged to document their advance care directives. You may wish to consult with an attorney to do this, but it is not required. There are two forms for this.
For the advance directive form called the Health Care Power of Attorney you will need to appoint someone you trust who can make medical decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself.
In addition, you’ll need to complete a second advance directive form called a Living Will, which documents your preferences for the life-sustaining medical treatments you do or do not want. Learn more about advance directive forms here.
4. Communicate and share your wishes and documents. Share your completed advance care directive documents with your loved ones, your doctors and the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to ensure you will receive the medical care you want.
5. Review and update your documents. Be sure to review your decisions from time to time, or during major life events such as marriage, birth, divorce, death, major illness, a new diagnosis, a change in treatment plan and particularly a change in your mind about your final wishes. Be sure to update your loved ones, doctors and the state with changes.
The 5 Steps of Advance Care Planning, by Thoughtful Life Conversations
The Conversation Starter Kit, a guide to having advance care discussions with loved ones and healthcare professionals, by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, The Conversation Project and Thoughtful Life Conversations
Long-Distance Caregiving Resources
Handbook for Long-Distance Caregivers™, by the Family Caregiver Alliance
Help for Long-Distance Caregivers, by AARP
Getting Started with Long-Distance Caregiving, by the National Institute on Aging
Arizona statutes pertaining to advance care directives:
Living Will A.R.S. § 36-3262
Health Care (Medical) Power of Attorney A.R.S. § 36-3224
Mental Health Care Power of Attorney A.R.S. § 36-3286