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An AgeWell Guide to Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning is preparing for future medical care in case you are unable to make your own care decisions. This is a way to communicate your treatment preferences, life-sustaining care and other health care decisions to your family, friends and your healthcare providers. Everyone over the age of 18 should plan for future medical care whether you are sick or in good health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most people say they would prefer to die at home, but only about one-third of adults have an advance directive expressing their wishes for end-of-life care (Pew 2006, AARP 2008).

Your healthcare provider or health plan like AgeWell New York, which provides Medicare Advantage and Managed Long Term Care health plans, can help you learn about Advance Care Planning and how to complete Advance Directives.

 Examples of Advance Directives

There are several written documents available to express your care wishes; below are some examples of Advance Directives:

  • Health Care Proxy: A legal document that allows you to select someone (an agent) on your behalf to make decisions about your health care, including life-sustaining treatment, if you become unable to make those decisions yourself.
  • Living Will: This document allows you to state, in writing, your wishes about your health care in the event that you can no longer speak for yourself. This will protect your right to refuse medical treatment you do not want, or to request treatment you do want. It also allows you to record your organ donation, pain relief, funeral, and other advance planning wishes.

 Advance Care in Five Steps

  1. Speak with a representative from your health plan to learn more about advance care planning. At AgeWell New York we assist our members in making sure their wishes for care and treatment are known and followed.
  2. Talk with your family, friends, doctors and your health plan about your healthcare wishes. Make sure to discuss the following questions:
  • What care and treatments do you want?
  • What type of care and treatments do you not want?
  • Who will speak for you when you can’t?
  • Who should have a copy and where should it be kept?
  1. Choose a spokesperson (agent). Be sure the person you choose to make decisions for you understands your care preferences according to your wishes, religious and moral beliefs.
  2. Complete a Health Care Proxy and/or a Living Will. Once the form(s) are completed and signed, photocopy the form and make sure to provide a copy of the document(s) to your doctor(s), spokesperson, family, and your health plan care manager. The original document should be kept in a safe, but easily accessible place.
  3. Review and update your advance directives periodically, at least once a year, or after a major life change such as a significant illness, divorce, death of a family member, etc. Reviewing your Advance Directives periodically is very important, as people’s thoughts and viewpoints can change over time.

Remember: Advance Directives apply only when the need arises and you are unable to make your own medical decisions. You do not need to notarize your Health Care Proxy form or Living Will, and you do not need a lawyer to fill out these forms.

A copy of the New York State Health Care Proxy form is available from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) website at https://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/patients/health_care_proxy/

Remember to consider all of your choices, and then talk about them with your family and health care providers. Together, we can coordinate and honor your preferences of care.

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