As many families gather to feast, laugh, share memories, and give thanks this holiday season there is an important topic to consider raising with loved ones, which is advance care planning.
Advance care planning is the time and preparation spent focused on making medical decisions in advance of not being able to speak for oneself. It includes:
- Obtaining information about life-sustaining measures and deciding which would be wanted in the event of life-limiting illness,
- Communicating personal values to family and other loved ones, and
- Documenting treatment preferences via advance directives.
Although, 90 percent of people say it is important to discuss advance care planning, only 27 percent have actually done it, according to a 2013 national survey. This is unfortunate since most people would like to know the medical wishes of their loved ones before the moment arises when they must make these critical decisions.
The first step to starting this conversation is to learn the language used in advanced care planning and the steps to take to achieve it. For instance, what are advanced directives, and what are the three types of advanced directives recognized in Texas?
A free resource available to educate yourself is our Educational Series 2: Advanced Geriatric Practice course titled Ethics and the Geriatrics Patient. Anyone can take this course, and health providers can receive 1.5 CEU contact hours for it. To access the course, you must first create a login.
Another free resource, including a starter kit to approach this discussion, can be found on The Conversation Project website.
The Center for Excellence in Long Term Care is a research center located at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing and supported by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Our mission is to serve the long-term care community and population of Texas by disseminating evidence-based research and best practices to improve the health outcomes of all Texas seniors, and provide free training through an education-based web platform. Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages.