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Advance Care Planning: Why You Should Put Your Healthcare Wishes in Writing

August 10, 2020
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, millions of people of all ages have found themselves unexpectedly hospitalized or critically ill. In these uncertain times, how do you make sure your healthcare wishes are honored? Robin Motter-Mast, DO, Chief of Staff at GBMC HealthCare and the Medical Director of Care Transformation, discussed how advance care planning can help you prepare for the unexpected.

“At this time more than ever, we need to have measures in place to make sure our voices are heard when we can’t speak for ourselves,” she explained. “Take control of your life and preplan to make sure you get the care that you want. Advance care planning isn’t just for people who are older. Anyone 18 or older should have an advance care plan.”

The first step is having a conversation with your loved ones about your healthcare wishes. Dr. Motter-Mast recommended picking a loved one or a close friend to act as your healthcare agent. This person will make sure your healthcare wishes are respected if you’re unable to speak for yourself.

She also said it’s wise to complete an advance directive form. This paperwork allows you to write down who you choose as your healthcare agent and what you want to happen if you’re incapacitated. The form is easy to use and easy to alter without a lawyer or notary if your wishes change. Click here to find copies of the form that you can fill out yourself.

Dr. Motter-Mast emphasized that this important conversation about your healthcare wishes shouldn’t be put off until you’re sick or injured. “Having this conversation early prevents you from receiving treatment that you don’t want. If you don’t have the conversation, you’re leaving choices about your care up to other people who may or may not share your outlook.” She also advised reevaluating your choices regularly to make sure they still reflect what you really want and making changes as needed.
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