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Advance Care Planning: What It Is and Why EVERY Adult Needs It!

By Griffin Hospital on 3/26/2019

“Do you have an Advance Directive?” It’s a question many of us have been asked more than once. Yet, we know most adults don’t have one and don’t think about creating one.

Why the big deal?

Because life can change in an instant!

We don’t like to think about it, but “what if” a sudden accident or illness left you unable to make or communicate your own wishes for health care? It’s a scenario which can profoundly alter an individual’s life and painfully disrupt even the most stable families…and it’s not that uncommon.

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day, so now is a great time to start planning your or your loved one’s Advance Directive.

Advance Care Planning (ACP) begins when we’re healthy – when there’s no crisis and no emergency. What if something happened and you needed someone else to make medical decisions? Who would you choose? Would that person be up to the task? Would he or she know your wishes, be able to make those decisions (even if it’s not what he or she would choose), and be able to do that in a stressful situation?

These are the questions we encourage adults to think about during the “first steps” of ACP. When you’re ready to make some decisions, then it’s time to create that Advance Directive.

An Advance Directive (AD) is a legal document that expresses your wishes concerning future healthcare decisions.  In Connecticut, there are two main types of Advance Directives. The first type identifies that person (or alternate) who will make medical decisions if you can’t. It’s called Appointment of Healthcare Representative and some would say it’s the most important AD. The second type is a Living Will. Among other healthcare decisions, a Living Will can express your wishes for the kinds of life support you would or would not want if you were in a terminal condition or became permanently unconscious.

Griffin Health offers free Advance Care Planning information and services. Our Let’s Talk…Let’s Plan brochures are available in the hospital’s Community Health Resource Center and in all Griffin Faculty Physician offices. We also encourage adults to contact the ACP office at 203-732-1255 with any questions or to schedule a meeting with one of our certified ACP facilitators. And if you’re looking for a list of questions to help you prepare your AD, we’ve have that too. All information and services are free.

Spring is a time for new beginnings.  Let’s start the conversation!