by Amy Bailey-Sheets, LMSW; Advance Care Planning Specialist at MidMichigan Health
Who would make medical choices for you if you were unable to do so? What would they choose? How would they know your wishes?
These are important questions for all adults to consider, regardless of your health. These important questions are discussed in the process of advance care planning. An advance care plan is a legal document that you use to name a health care agent and to share your preferences for medical treatment should there be a time when you are unable to make your own medical decisions (for example, if you are in surgery). This legal document can be created with your loved ones or with the assistance of an attorney if desired. This legal document is known by various names such as a Designation of Patient Advocate form, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and Advance Medical Directive, to name a few.
Advance care planning includes creating your legal document and having a discussion with your health care agent and loved ones about the care that you would like to receive when faced with a health crisis. “My family knows my wishes” is a statement that I often heard from patients when I worked as a social worker in the Intensive Care Unit. When I followed up with the patient’s family, they were often at a loss of what choice to make as the patient had not talked about their preferences for specific medical interventions or scenarios. Specific discussions about CPR, mechanical ventilation and tube feeding are some important medical treatments to consider. Other important topics to cover are the use of hospice care, palliative care and where one would prefer to live when it is no longer safe for them to live at home. By creating an advance care plan and discussing it with your health care agent and loved ones, they are aware of your choices.
Advance care planning is an ongoing process and your plan may change as your health changes or in response to life events. It is important to review your advance care plan at least every 10 years to make sure that your choice of health care agent and your choice of medical treatment remain up to date. Our community has several trained advance care planning facilitators who can assist with these discussions and any needed revisions to your plan. These facilitators are found at various locations at MidMichigan Health and at community agencies such as Senior Services.
Your advance care plan is a gift that you give your loved ones. It gives them guidance on what choices to make for you if you cannot make them yourself. It also helps to normalize talking about the care that you would want to receive at the end of your life. Your advance care plan takes the burden of choice out of the hands of your loved ones, as they are following your wishes that you have written in your plan.
MidMichigan Health will be offering free Advance Care Planning Workshops at each of the Senior Services’ five Activity and Dining Centers in May. Anyone, any age, is welcome to come and learn this important information. If interested, participants are asked to call Senior Services at 989-633-3700 and indicate the center they would like to attend at least one day in advance to register. For those 60 and over, the cost of the meal is by suggested donation of $4.00 or any amount they can afford. For those under 60, meals cost $6.00 per person.
Advance Care Planning Workshop Schedule
Mon, May 18 11 am | Greendale, at the West Midland Family Center
Tues, May 19 12 pm | Mills, at the Greater Midland North Family Center
Thurs, May 21 12:40 pm | Coleman, 415 E Webster, Coleman
Tues, May 26 12 pm | Sanford, 3243 N West River Road, Sanford
Thurs, May 28 12 pm | Trailside, 4700 Dublin Avenue, Midland