Who will care for my ageing or ailing parents and siblings – and who will care for me? An Advance Care Plan for future health and care is essential.
Unless we and our ageing and ailing parents and siblings have an Advance Care Plan, events beyond our control present us all with the most difficult decisions!
Ask yourself these questions about caring for family with health needs…
- If I had a parent or grandparent, brother or sister, child or grandchild, any family member or a dear friend who needed ongoing health care, would it change my life in any way?
- Who will care for them?
- Would I need to give up my job or provide a room in my house to care for them?
- Would I need to share the responsibility with other members of the family to ensure they were cared for?
- If their condition was terminal or they were ageing and deteriorating would I need to make some adjustments in my life to be there for them?
- Maybe I live overseas – how would that affect me?
- Do I know the cost of their care depending on their condition and do I know how that would be financed?
What about my health care needs?
All of the above questions regarding my family, I really need to ask of myself – what if it was me needing the care.
The Objective of this Post
To bring awareness to an Advance Care Plan for future health and care, also referred to as A Statement of Choices, which contains our wishes and instructions before we will ever require them. It is something many people do not know exists, it is simple, and you can do this at home.
Set aside 30mins and make a start. There are forms that guide you which are easy to follow in plain language, not legal jargon, and if you only wish to share them with your family, then do so – it doesn’t cost anything.
An Advance Care Plan is not a legal document. It is an expression of your wishes which you have shared with others. You will need to share it with one or more of the following: family, friends, Attorney(*POA,EPOA), Government Health Care Dept. It’s up to you who you choose.
*POA Power of Attorney, EPOA Enduring Power of Attorney – explained below
It is NOT an Advance Care Directive or Health Care Directive. Directives are documents with specific instructions for medical conditions and are not discussed in this post but mentioned where appropriate.
Advance Care Plan topics:
This post covers some of the topics below to demonstrate the nature of this exercise, but the Advance Care Plan, addresses a lot more. Links are available at the end of this post.
- Health and well being
- Location of Care
- Who makes the decisions?
- What else is included in an Advance Care Plan?
- How do I create an Advance Care Plan?
Health and Well Being
This is the reason for an Advance Care Plan and typically it is required as we age and start needing assistance at Home, in an Aged Care or Disability Facility, in a Hospice, in a Hospital.
Sometimes we need it long before we age due to factors such as accident, illness, birth(congenital) and genetic conditions.
Because we never know at what age or stage this can affect us, it’s a great idea to start writing down our wishes and instructions now.
Younger people are placed in Aged Care Facilities because there is no other facility in their town where their family lives. These patients have the same dependencies as an ageing person therefore, all of the appropriate care exists at these facilities.
While we can never imagine this happening to us, we need to be honest and ask ourselves, “what are my plans?”
I love music, especially instrumentals, country-rock and peaceful meditative music. And being outdoors with birds, trees and gardens and I have a pet dog. But I do not enjoy looking at four walls in silence and worrying about my pet dog. These are things I will address in my Advance Care Plan.
If we have special dietary needs or preferences such as Vegetarian, gluten-free and we are diabetic or have allergies, this is a great place to include that information.
If you were suddenly unable to communicate due to illness or injury, does anyone else know your allergies or food intolerances, your phobias or your sacred beliefs which are deeply important to you?
When health challenges are at hand some of these requests may seem trivial. It is our right to have choices and in our best interest to write them down.
Location of Care
Community care and extended families are still intact for some cultures where they take care of young, old, disabled and infirm.
Alternatively, Advance Care Plans are useful to express where we wish to go when the need arises.
Some governments provide assistance which enables us to maintain independence in our current home and as our requirements progress, so too does the assistance, sometimes enabling overnight care plus daily care.
At some stage it may be necessary to engage family or friends to see what their availablity is so this is one of the most important aspects of an Advance Care Plan – a round table discussion with family.
It should never be assumed that family are in a position to drop their lives and come running to us. If we do the maths, adult children are often at the peak of their careers and family commitments at the same time mothers and fathers are entering their retirement and senior years.
The options could include in-home care, moving in with family or friends, a Home for Aged or Disabled, a Hospice or a Hospital.
New topics and easy to follow checklists – want to be informed when they are ready?
Add your first name and email address – see the box provided.
Who makes the decisions?
Preferably YOU are the decision maker with input from your family who may be involved in your care. If you do not take 100% responsibility for these decisions, someone who does not know you may end up having to do it for you. However, you may need to assist a family member make these decisions if they are now incapable of doing so.
Who makes the decisions?
Below is a list of who makes your decisions :
- We do, if we are capable physically, mentally and emotionally
- Power of Attorney and Family – In our Advance Care Plan, we can nominate a POA or EPOA. Power of Attorney/s or Enduring Power of Attorney/s (POA makes decisions while we are alive. EPOA can make decisions while we are alive and when we have passed)
- For Health and/or Financial decisions nominating E/POA’s is an option.
- We can nominate family members as our E/POA or omit to include E/POA and just nominate family members, next of kin, to make decisions.
- Someone close to us – if we don’t have a Plan and are now incapable of making one, someone closest to us will make decisions on our behalf – they may need to guess or assume what we would like.
- Other organisations and authorities – in the absence of someone close or anyone we have nominated that is not available, someone will be nominated by a government authority to act as our guardian to make decisions on our behalf – a stranger.
- In all cases, research your local laws and make sure documents/signatures are in place if they are required
- An Advance Care Plan signed by the person concerned and shared with the family should suffice in most circumstances.
- In all reality, an Advanced Care Plan is an expression of your personal preferences so this does not need to be legally binding. It needs to be shared with people you trust because they will be the ones to convey what you have requested.
With all of the options above you can see how they can become very impersonal. This is the reason we should make our own Advance Care Plan as soon as we are adults and not leave it to someone else.
Important Decisions and Documents
In addition to Advance Care Planning – these are other areas that should be considered which I will address in separate posts.
Advance Care Directive
(this is a separate document which is legally binding and specific to medical treatment)
Under specific circumstances e.g. stroke, heart attack, terminal cancer, severe injury we may choose if:
- we want assistance to prolong life
- or just ensure we remain comfortable
- or allow us to die naturally withour intervention.
- Organ Donation / Medical Science
- Bury or Cremate
- Location of Burial or for Ashes
- Insurance details
- Bank details
- and more…
How do I get started
- Print off one of the forms from an online site, they come with step-by-step guidelines – see links below
- Browse through it and start to fill it out
- You can start discussing with family & friends
- Organise a get together over morning tea with family and/or friends and help each other
- When you have completed your form, sign it.
- Family or friends should know where it is kept
- get signatures where applicable if you elected any outside parties e.g. lawyers, medical or government representatives , POA/EPOA’s
Below are links to Advance Care Plans for Australia, New Zealand, USA and UK. However, you only need to google Advance Care Plan country-name and you will be presented with some options.
Look for ‘Statement of Choices’ to find the forms
This website will be covering more topics such as:
Making Wills, Testamentary Trusts, Life & Funeral insurance, Care of your Pets, Organ Donation, Funeral details, choosing Caskets or making your own,choosing Burial Plots or spreading Ashes & some of the restrictions and laws, procedures to be Returned Home for burial overseas and so much more.
New topics and checklists – want to be informed when they are ready?
Add your first name and email address – see the box provided.
Leave a comment and share your own experiences.
If you have a question I will respond as soon as I can.