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What would happen if you were in the hospital and couldn’t make your own decisions?

No one likes to think about the worst case scenario, but sometimes you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Advance care planning can help you prepare for the future, no matter what state you’re in.

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What Is Advance Care Planning?

Advance care planning is a process that allows you to plan for your future medical care in the event that you are too sick to make your own decisions later in life. You may have heard of an “advance directive” before. An advance directive is one type of tool that can be used.

The Importance of Advance Care Planning

Advance directives are only used as a guideline. It is not a form that will automatically make decisions the second you write them down. If you become too ill to make decisions for yourself, your care team can look for guidance from both your health care agent and your advance directive.

8 Steps to Plan Your Advance Care

1. Start the Conversation – It is important to talk about advance care planning with your loved ones, even though it is not an easy topic. There are many resources available to help you start the conversation.

2. Choose a Health Care Agent – Your health care agent will have durable medical power of attorney and can make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them yourself.

3. Consider Your Values – What makes your life worth living? There is no right or wrong answer, and it depends on what is important to you. You can choose your treatments that you would want based on your values

4. Fill Out the Pennsylvania Advance Health Care Directive – Download the form and fill it out.

5. Talk to Your Loved Ones about What Your Advance Directive Says – Fill in your family members once you have made your decision. It’s best to be open about your decisions prior to needing them.

6. Make Copies – Make copies of your advance directive and give the copies to your loved ones, caregivers, and doctors.

8. Don’t Forget to Take a Copy with You When You Go to the hospital – Your health care team may ask you if you have an advance directive, so have a copy on hand!

You may have additional questions: what if I change my mind? If I already have a will and power of attorney, do I still need a living will and health care agent? Don’t worry! You can learn more about advance directives and look at some of the frequently asked questions.

About UPMC

A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.