What is Life Care Planning?
Life Care Planning is Kaiser Permanente’s name for a process also known as advance care planning. We believe that all adults should plan in advance.
Life Care Planning involves two major choices
- Selecting someone you trust to make your health care decisions if you are incapable.
- Giving specific instructions about your care in the event of a sudden injury or illness.
These are very important decisions, so it is best to make them after carefully considering your values, beliefs and experiences.
Although it isn’t always easy, it’s important to have conversations about what you value most in life and how you would want to be treated in specific health or medical situations.
It is also important to document your wishes. Putting your plan in writing helps those caring for you to accurately remember your wishes so you get the care that you want. One way you can document your wishes is by completing an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD).
The Advance Health Care Directive is a legal document that lets you do the following:
- designate a health care agent – a person who can voice your health care choices in the event you cannot communicate. This is also known as “durable power of attorney for health care” or “medical durable power of attorney”.
- provide instructions about your medical care in situations in which you are unable to make your own decisions.
- express your values, hopes and priorities.
It is important to revisit your life care plan from time to time and to have an on-going dialogue with loved ones about your priorities.
You can change your life care plan at any time
It is not unusual to want to make changes to your life care plan. Things change and so might your decisions. In fact, there 5 life events or circumstances that we recommend using as triggers for you to go back to your Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) to see if you would like to make any changes.
When to revisit
- Decade – when you hit the BIG 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90+!
- Divorce – maybe your agent has changed. If you wish to have your current partner serve as your agent even if you divorce, be sure to mark that option on your Advance Health Care Directive.
- Diagnosis – finding out you have a new or worsening health condition.
- Decline in health – maybe you have a health condition that is fairly well managed but overtime you aren’t able to be as independent as you once were.
- Death – the death of a significant person in your life may cause you to have a different or new value that you want reflected in your own advanced care plan and AHCD, or, you may need to designate a new agent.
As your Life Care
As your life changes, your goals, wishes and needs for life care planning may change as well. If you have recently experienced a serious illness or hospitalization it may be good for you and your agent to meet with a Life Care Planning facilitator who can help you plan. Please ask your doctor if you have any questions.