By Alessandra Ramirez, MSW, Certified Concierge Care Advisor
Most people may think that Advanced Care Planning may be reserved for old age, significant physical decline, or disease progression. Although there is no perfect time to complete this paperwork, there are circumstances that can usher in the “time to start thinking about it.” Advanced Care Planning paperwork typically involves legal documentation that outlines medical wishes to be met when an individual can no longer speak for themselves. Some of this paperwork may include a living will, advanced directive and POLST form. Because a medical crisis can happen at any time and without warning, it’s important to have this paperwork completed ahead of time. Granted, this paperwork is not very fun to complete, but there are many benefits to having it on hand, especially for those that may be caring for you in a time of crisis.
So, when is a good time to begin thinking and even filling out some of this paperwork? As mentioned above you could wait for old age or significant disease progression, but these routes do come with risk. As a Senior Care Advisor and former Hospice Social Worker, I would recommend serious review and consideration at the age of 65. However, if you have a history of cancer or chronic illness in your family I would recommend reviewing at an earlier age. It’s important to review, discuss and complete this paperwork when you are of sound mind and can actively participate in the decisions that need to be made. As we get closer to end of life, we can lose the cognitive ability to make our wishes known and leave a heavy burden on our family and loved ones to guess what we would like to have happen.
As life continues, it’s important to periodically review and update medical wishes that reflect any changes in beliefs, values, or preferences. If it is time to begin thinking about ACP reach out to your local senior care advisor to help begin the conversation.