advance care planning; advance directives

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Advance Care Planning
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Advance care planning is a process for identifying and communicating an individual’s values and preferences regarding future health care for use at a time when that person is no longer capable of making health care decisions. It may occur in or outside of health care settings, can be done by anyone with decision-making capacity, and may or may not involve health care professionals directly.

Advance care planning may, but does not necessarily, result in a written advance directive document.

"Conversations focused on advance care planning are an essential part of ensuring that our older Americans receive high-quality, patient-centered care.... patients who have had such discussions receive end-of-life care that is congruent with their preferences"
American Geriatric Society

Advance Directive Documents

In the state of Michigan, a health care advance directive is a legal document in which you give directions about your health care choices. With this document, you are able to give directions as to the kind of health care you do or do not want to receive, if in the future you cannot speak for yourself. You are able to name a person as your "patient advocate" to make sure your wishes are carried out, including decisions about life-sustaining treatments.

An advance directive gives your "patient advocate" the right to participate in discussions and to weigh the pros and cons of treatment decisions based on your wishes. Your "agent" can make decisions for you whenever you are unable to decide for yourself, even if your decision-making ability is only temporarily affected.

An advance directive also provides support to your family. By letting people know what your wishes for treatment are, your family and friends will not be left to guess what you would want done. This is a great help to families and friends at a time which is often very difficult and stressful for them.

Michigan recognizes several different advance directive documents.  The links below will provide you with information regarding advance directive options and resources.

The Michigan Physician Guide to End-of-Life Care - Chapter 2 - Advance Care Planning

Michigan Patient Advocate Designation - Planning and Form

Office of Services for the Aging - Advance Care Planning Resources

Don’t Get Confused!!
Based on a Michigan law passed in 1990, the “Designation of a Patient Advocate” is legally binding and is sometimes called a “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.” Don’t confuse the term “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care” with the term “Durable Power of Attorney,” which relates to decisions about your financial matters. Your Patient Advocate named in your Advance Directive for Health Care cannot make any decisions about your finances, unless you choose that same person to make financial decisions on your behalf in a separate legal document.

 Want more information on completing an advance directive and making healthcare decisions? Click here for Advance Care Planning Tools and Resources


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