By the Bay Health

Advance Care Planning

For many families, talking about end-of-life issues can be difficult and we may avoid having these conversations. Yet having these important discussions can empower you and your loved ones by ensuring that your needs and wishes are met. Creating an advanced care plan will give you and your family peace of mind, knowing that you have a plan for the future.

TALKING ABOUT THE END OF LIFE

At By the Bay Health, we have over 45 years of experience helping individuals and families with advanced care planning. We’re here to assist you through the process and our friendly team of experts can help ease your concerns and provide you with all the information you need to build a plan for you and your family.

Here are some questions to consider while thinking about the advantages of Advanced Care Planning:

  • If I’m unable to speak for myself, who should make decisions for me?
  • Where would I prefer to live at the end of life? What if my family needs help caring for me?
  • What medical treatments do I want or not want when I’m near the end of life?
  • Whom do I want near me at the end? (Family, friends, medical/spiritual professionals)
  • How can my loved ones help me feel comfortable and at peace? Would I like music playing? Gentle touch?

Sometimes we shy away from questions like these or avoid them altogether. But remember, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. They are your decisions, and we will make sure your plan is reflective of your unique needs.  

HAVE THE CONVERSATION

The next step is to have “the conversation” with your loved ones. This gives you a chance to explain your choices, and listen to their questions and concerns. Take it slowly. Acknowledge that it may feel uncomfortable. You may even find the process rewarding or liberating.

Then, when you are ready, you can fill out an Advance Care Plan, which is remarkable easy to complete once you have spent time thinking about your choices.

COMPLETE YOUR ADVANCE CARE PLAN

Your Advance Care Plan is simply a document that allows you to put your end-of-life wishes in writing and to appoint a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (typically a spouse or adult child) to help ensure they are followed. The Advance Care Plan can come in many forms, such as the one titled “Five Wishes” which is available from fivewishes.org. For your convenience, we have created a helpful California Advance Care Plan form with instructions. You may complete it securely online here or print out a copy to complete later.

When you have completed your Advance Care Plan, simply have it signed by two witnesses, or acknowledged by a Notary Public. Then, it is important to provide copies of your completed Advance Care Plan to your loved ones, your physician, and your health care provider.

“My mom was 94, so her death was not completely unexpected, and my brother and I were actually able to be with her at the end. Fortunately for us, my parents had prepared health directives and my father had done a wonderful job of getting things all arranged, so basically my brother and I just had to follow the instructions. It certainly inspired me to do the same for my children. So, now I feel even more attachment to [By the Bay Health] and the wonderful support you all offer in times of need.”

– Hospice Family Member

CONVERSATION STARTERS

When you have completed your Advance Care Plan, simply have it signed by two witnesses, or acknowledged by a Notary Public. Then, it is important to provide copies of your completed Advance Care Plan to your loved ones, your physician, and your health care provider.

The End.
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