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Having an Advance Care Plan is Always Important, Especially Now

Two women talking about their advance care plan.

COVID-19 came crashing into our world in 2020 and upended so many aspects of life. 

Among other things, the pandemic should remind us all how important it is to have an advance care plan in place for ourselves. Thinking about and expressing your wishes for your health care should be considered a standard part of taking care of yourself. But sometimes it takes a crisis to remind us of this. 

Here is just one question you may ask yourself: If you or a loved one need hospital care for COVID-19, what measures do you want the hospital staff to take on your behalf?

The virus is a compelling reminder of the importance of documenting your wishes for health-care treatment. It is important to make your wishes known so you receive the type of care you want if you become ill and cannot express your wishes.

The Time for Documenting Your Wishes is Now 

Sometimes people feel it is “too soon” to talk about health-care wishes, only to have life demonstrate that it is already “too late.” Illness or an accident can happen at any age. And the prospect of contracting a highly contagious virus may serve as a good motivation to have this conversation. 

Each person has a unique set of experiences, values, and beliefs.  These influence the way they make medical decisions.  Advance care planning offers you the opportunity to share these values and beliefs in advance.  This will help you make informed decisions throughout all stages of your life and health needs. 

5 Simple Starting Steps

  1. Collect your thoughts.
  2. Consider who you would want to help discuss health conditions or make decisions for you if you are unable.
  3. Think about how aggressively you want to seek to maintain your health. Choices include: do everything; do less aggressive and not heroic treatments; or use treatments only for comfort.
  4. Document your wishes and priorities in an advance directive form.
  5. Share these thoughts and documents with your loved ones and medical provider.

Putting Your Thoughts on Paper 

Once you gather your thoughts and discuss with loved ones, it is then important to document your health-care wishes and appoint a decision maker through an advance directive. 

An advance directive includes two forms: a health-care power of attorney and a living will.

By taking action now, you provide a wonderful gift to your family, and they to you, if someday they are faced with making decisions on your behalf.

Talking about your wishes and making an advance care plan is important no matter your age and no matter if there is a pandemic or not. 

Our advance care planning resources include forms, education and other resources to help you complete the advance care planning process.

Additional information, resources and tools on how to start the conversation with your family can be found on Lancaster General Health's Advance Care Planning page.

author name

Leon S. Kraybill, MD

Leon S. Kraybill, MD, is a physician with LG Health Physicians Geriatrics and Chief of Geriatrics for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. He also serves as the Medical Director at Luther Acres in Lititz and Masonic Villages in Elizabethtown.

Education: Medical School–Temple University; Residency–Lancaster General Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program; Fellowship–Lancaster General Hospital Geriatric Fellowship.

Call: 717-544-3022

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.

 

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