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Get the Facts: What is Advance Care Planning and an Advance Directive?

By Griffin Hospital on 4/25/2016

Your physician plays an important role in guiding and supporting your everyday health decisions – such as exercise, diet, medication and lifestyle. Advance Care Planning is yet another discussion your physician is uniquely qualified to help you with.

At any age, a medical crisis could leave you or someone you love too ill to make his or her own healthcare decisions. It’s important to plan ahead so that you or your loved ones’ wishes are known, documented and respected. Even if you are not sick now, making healthcare plans for the future is an important step toward making sure you get the medical care you would want if you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.

To help you with the process, we’ve outlined a few key terms to help guide your next conversation with your physician.

Advance Care Planning reflects your own decisions, based on your personal values, preferences, and discussions with your loved ones. Advance care planning might include:

  • Getting information on the types of life-sustaining treatments that are available.
  • Deciding what types of treatment you would or would not want should you be diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.
  • Sharing your personal values with your loved ones.
  • Completing advance directives to put into writing what types of treatment you would or would not want – and who you chose to speak for you - should you become unable to speak for yourself.

Advance Directives are also known as living wills. These are legal documents where you specify what actions should be taken for your health if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to illness or incapacity. While you may talk to a family lawyer about this as part of your estate planning, a valid advanced directive can also be developed by you and signed by two witnesses.

Advance Care Planning physician services are covered by Medicare. Griffin Hospital also offers support to help guide your decision making around Advance Care Planning and Advance Directives. Call your physician to book an appointment, call us 203-732-1255 or email acp@griffinhealth.org to make an appointment with a specially trained representative from Griffin Hospital who can guide you in your decision making and create a living will if desired. Together, you can discuss options, review your decisions, and formulate a plan.

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