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Female doctor talking to elderly couple and taking notes
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Female doctor talking to elderly couple and taking notes

Advance Care Planning

For help with advance care planning, Carle offers the Respecting Choices® program to assist patients in making informed decisions about future healthcare needs.

Advance care planning assures your wishes are understood and communicated to healthcare professionals and your loved ones even when you aren't able to speak for yourself.

Four important steps you can take in this process are:

  1. Think. Think about your priorities, values and wishes.
  2. Share. Share your priorities, values and wishes with those you love.
  3. Choose. Choose someone you trust to speak for you if you aren’t able to speak for yourself.
  4. Write. Write down your wishes on paper. We recommend completing a Power of Attorney for Health Care, but you might also choose to complete a Living Will.

Think

One of the greatest gifts you can give to those you love is preparation and honest conversations. The reflective questions below will help you focus on your priorities, values and wishes.

Consider

  • What brings meaning and happiness to your life? What brings joy or comfort?
  • What activities or hobbies are important to you?
  • Do you have spiritual or cultural activities/rituals that are important to you?

Reflect

  • Have you experienced a friend or family member seriously ill or hurt and in the hospital? What did you learn from that experience?
  • How do you make important decisions?
  • In tough times, whom do you trust the most in your life to help you through and give you wise council?
  • Whom do you trust to give wise counsel regarding healthcare choices and treatments?

Determine

  • What do you understand about your health status or current illness if you have one?
  • What questions do you have for your healthcare provider regarding your health or current illness?
  • What fears or worries do you have about your future health?
  • If your health worsens, what are your personal goals in that situation? For example, would you want to focus on living as long as possible, maintaining your current health or being comfortable without receiving aggressive treatments which may not improve your quality of life?
  • If doctors told your loved ones that your chance of recovering from an illness was very slim and you would likely never be able to communicate with people around you, what would you want your loved ones to do – continue all possible treatments no matter what or stop aggressive treatment and be kept comfortable?

Share

Share your answers to these questions with your loved ones. They need to know your thoughts and wishes in case they’ll be making medical decisions for you.

Choose

Choose a healthcare agent. This person should be someone you trust who can follow your wishes if you’re unable to speak for yourself. This person should be willing to accept this role knowing that it could be emotionally difficult if they have to speak for you. 

Write

Complete an advance directive. Completing this document assists your loved ones and healthcare providers. We recommend completing a Power of Attorney for Health Care, but you might also choose to complete a Living Will. The Power of Attorney for Health Care is used to name your healthcare agent and provide contact information. If illness prevents you from expressing your wishes, this document states whom you choose to speak for you.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
Living Will

Witnessing

Advance directives need to be signed by a witness to be valid. Options for getting a witness signature while practicing social distancing include:

  • Call your bank branch to ask if a notary is available. When you arrive at the drive-up window send your form through to be notarized.
  • Ask a neighbor if they would be willing to sign as a witness. You can leave the form on their front porch then walk away and stand at a distance. After the neighbor has signed, they can place the form back on the porch and return into the house. You can then approach and retrieve the documents.  

Submitting

Advance directives can be added to your medical record in one of these ways:

  • Upload to your MyCarle account. After signing into your account, select Advance Directives from the Health tab.
  • Mail a copy to Health Information Management
  • Bring a copy to your next appointment at Carle

Contact Us

We're happy to answer questions. Email us at ACP@carle.org or call your primary care doctor’s office to arrange a phone visit with a social worker or an advance care planning facilitator.