Planning & Health Care Decisions

What is Advance Care Planning?

All adults can benefit from thinking about what their healthcare choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves. It is important to have an advance care planning conversation with your loved ones so they will know what medical care you desire, especially if you are unable to speak for yourself. Regardless of your age or health, documenting your wishes today means your loved ones won’t have to make difficult decisions later.

To guide you in these discussions, consider the following, adapted from the advance care planning workbook “Five Wishes”:

  • Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them
  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want
  • How comfortable you want to be
  • How you want people to treat you
  • What you want your loved ones to know

These decisions can be written down in an “advance directive” so that others know what they are. Advance directives come in two main forms:

  • A “healthcare power of attorney” (or “proxy” or “agent” or “surrogate”) documents the person you select to be your voice for healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • A “living will” documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.

The Federal Patient Self-Determination Act requires that all Medicare-participating healthcare facilities inquire about and provide information to patients on Advance Directives; it also requires these facilities to provide community education on Advance Directives. All healthcare facilities are required to:

  • Provide information about health care decision-making rights.
  • Ask all patients if they have an advance directive.
  • Educate their staff and community about advance directives.
  • Not discriminate against patients based on an advance directive status.

The Indiana POST form is a standardized form containing orders by a treating physician based on a patient’s preferences for end-of-life care.

Click here to visit the Indiana State Department of Health

The links below explore a variety of resources to help you make, discuss and document future healthcare wishes and decisions.

AARP: End of Life Planning

American Bar Association: Toolkit for Health Care Advance Planning

ISDH Advance Directive Resource Center

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

The Indiana POST* Program