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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

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.