Sometimes, due to illness or injury, individuals are not able to make an informed decisions or communicate their wishes regarding their healthcare decisions and treatment preferences. Advance care planning is a way for a person to plan and document the type of care that he or she wishes to have at the end-of-life.
An advance directive is a legal document that includes the selection of a healthcare agent (HCA) and a living will. The document serves as a guide for family members and healthcare providers to follow based on a patient’s written instructions.
- The first step in completing an advance directive is to choose a HCA. This is someone to help make decisions if you are ever incapable of making informed decisions.
- The second part of the advance directive is the living will, where you choose the type of care that you do or do not want at the end-of-life. End-of-life care is care for patients who are terminally ill, in a persistent vegetative state or in and end-stage condition.
It is not necessary to hire an attorney to complete an advance directive. An advance directive becomes a legal document once it is completed and appropriately signed.
The BridgingLife Advance Care Planning Community Outreach Program offers classes to community groups to help individuals complete an advance directive. The classes are free to participants through funding through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation in memory of Dawn Nee. Contact BridgingLife at 410-871-8000 to schedule and advance directive class for your community group.
Marjorie Simpson, Ph.D., C.R.N.P., G.N.P.-B.C., is an inpatient palliative care nurse practitioner at BridgingLife.