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Advance Care Planning

Does your doctor or family know what kind of medical care you want if you are too sick to tell them?

Advance care planning is about understanding health care decisions others may need to make for you if you are too ill to make them yourself. It’s about considering your preferences ahead of time and sharing those choices with others. Even if you are not sick now, making health care plans for the future is an important step toward making sure you get the medical care you would want.

If you have questions, please contact your primary care physician or Stephens Memorial Hospital’s Licensed Clinical Social Worker at 207-743-5933 ext.6999.

Click here for: Advance Directive Forms

Common questions you may have

Advance care planning is an important step, regardless of whether you are ill or in good health. The following are some common questions you may have now about advance care planning and ensuring you get the medical care you would want, if you were too ill to express those decisions on your own.

An advance directive is a legal document that goes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. No matter how old you are, this helps others to know what type of medical care you want. It also allows you to express your values and desires related to end-of-life care.

Advance care planning is not just about old age. At any age, a medical crisis could leave someone too ill to make his or her own healthcare decisions. Your decisions about how to handle any of these situations may be different at age 40 than at age 85. Or, they may be different if you have an incurable condition as opposed to being generally healthy.

Advance care planning is a process, and at any time you can change the instructions as you get older or if your viewpoint changes.

A first step in the planning process is to talk with your primary care provider. Stephens Memorial Hospital also offers free Advance Care Planning sessions throughout the year. For more information about an upcoming session please call 207-743-5933 ext. 6999.

Your proxy might be a family member, a friend, your lawyer, or someone from your church or place of worship. Think about people you know who share your views and values about life and medical decisions. You can decide how much authority your proxy has over your medical care—whether he or she is entitled to make a wide range of decisions or only a few specific ones.

It’s a good idea to  name an alternate proxy as well. You should discuss this with those you choose before you name them officially.

Give copies of your plan to your healthcare proxy and alternate proxy. Give your doctor a copy for your medical records. Tell key family members and friends where you keep a copy. If you have to go to the hospital, give staff there a copy to include in your records. It’s a good idea to keep track of who receives a copy so you can provide them with an updated document if you change your advanced care plan.