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Prepare for major health changes with Life Care Planning

MAR 20, 2019
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What happens if you can no longer make your own decisions? You’ve built a life based on your choices, values, and beliefs — and with a lot of hard work. And you’ve planned a future on your own terms. But life can change in an instant.


Life Care Planning can help you make sure your voice is heard when you need it most. Plan for future medical decisions now and stay in control of your care — even if an illness or injury means you can no longer speak for yourself.


There’s some confusion about who needs an Advance Health Care Directive and when’s the right time to create one. Here, we separate the myths from the facts, so you can start planning today.


Myth 1: Life Care Planning is only for the terminally ill

The truth is, Life Care Planning is for everyone — and the best time to make your future medical care decisions is when you’re healthy. While an advance directive does cover how you want to be treated at the end of your life, it also covers unexpected situations, such as a sudden illness or injury. And there are other care decisions for you to consider. That includes care focused on your comfort and treatment that could prolong your life.


Myth 2: I’m young, so I don’t need to think about this now

You never know when you might be in a position where you’re unable to speak for yourself. Medical changes can happen suddenly to anyone, at any age. That’s why now is the right time to create your life care plan — so you can make sure you’ll get the care you want when you need it.


Myth 3: My loved ones will know what to do

While this might not be a myth, it’s a good idea to make sure the people in your life know how you’d wish to continue your care if you can’t speak for yourself — and exactly whom you want to advocate on your behalf. Your loved ones want you to get the care that fits your wishes, values, and beliefs. An advance directive makes it easy for them to know what to do, so they don’t have to make tough decisions in an already stressful moment.


An important first step is for you to choose one person to be your health care decision-maker. Whether it’s a partner, relative, or friend, talk to them about your values and care decisions — and make sure they’re willing to be your voice and follow your wishes if the time comes.


Myth 4: I can’t put anything on paper in case I change my mind

You’re able to return to your advance directive whenever you want to make changes. We recommend you revisit your plan during certain moments in your life, such as when you get married, have a baby, get a health diagnosis, or at every decade. For example, you might want to choose a different health care decision-maker or change a decision based on a newly diagnosed condition.


Fact 1: Talking about Life Care Planning can be a relief

Discussing your future medical care with your partner, family, or friends can feel overwhelming at first. You might be afraid of making them anxious. But in a recent survey, 53% of Americans said they would feel relieved if a loved one talked to them about their wishes.1 Having an advance directive takes the guesswork — and unnecessary worry — out of overseeing your care. Think of it as a giving your family the gift of peace of mind.


Fact 2: Your doctor needs a copy of your plan

You may have already written a plan with your lawyer. And we hope you share it with your loved ones — but it’s also important that you give a copy to your doctor. Without access to your plan, your care team can’t act on it.


Fact 3: National Healthcare Decisions Day is a time to start talking

Most people don’t have an advance directive on file with their care provider.2 That leaves doctors and families to guess at the care they would want. National Healthcare Decisions Day was created to change that by starting a conversation. You might not feel ready to write an advance directive. But on April 16, we hope you’ll talk to someone about your wishes. Think about who you would want to be your decision-maker and ask them to be an advocate for your health care.


Fact 4: You can file an advance directive with Kaiser Permanente at no cost

Get started now — download a copy of our Advance Health Care Directive and read through it. Have questions? From how to choose a decision-maker to filling out your advance directive, we can help you through every step. Talk to your doctor or care team or sign up to attend a workshop near you.3


1The Conversation Project National Survey, 2018.

2See note 1.

3If available. Some classes may require a fee.


TOPICSadvance directivelife care planning