Advance Care Planning

Making Your Wishes Known

Many of us put off discussions of the medical interventions we would or wouldn’t want because we’re reasonably healthy, but accidents and unexpected emergencies can suddenly put anyone in the difficult situation of not being able to communicate their treatment choices. Planning for all possible outcomes can reduce stress and anxiety for you and your loved ones.

Advance care planning focuses on making decisions about the care you would want, if you were unable to speak for yourself. It’s about the people who care about you and your medical team respecting and honoring your wishes based on your values, goals and preferences throughout your lifetime but especially if you were in a sudden accident or had an unexpected emergency.

Thinking and talking about advance care planning can be confusing and difficult. Our trained facilitators can guide you through this process.

  • Think about what is important to you, what adds meaning to your life and what type of medical care you want.
  • Talk to those who care about you as the best time is now.
  • Choose an advocate, an agent who would speak on your behalf and would honor your wishes.
  • Complete an Advance Directive naming your advocate and confirming your healthcare wishes.

Contact us today at or (360) 565-9293 to arrange a discussion.

  • Schedule a phone consultation or a one-on-one in-person consultation.
  • Invite us to give a short presentation at your group’s virtual meeting (book club, service club, faith event, family event).
  • Register to attend an on-line workshop presented by Olympic Medical Center.

Take the Important Steps

Have the conversation – Of all the conversations you choose to have with loved ones, how you want to spend your last days is probably not at the top of the list. End-of-life conversations can be difficult to begin, but it is important to discuss your wishes with loved ones before a crisis occurs.

Make a plan – Once you’ve had the conversation, take the next step. Make a plan.

  • Complete an Advance Directive document.
  • Share the document with your physician.
  • Share the document with your loved ones so they will be ready when the time comes.

Advance Care Planning Documents

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – This document describes your personal values and goals for treatment should you not be able to decide for yourself and designates a health care agent to make medical decisions for you.

Health Care Directive – Choose whether you want life-sustaining treatments in certain situations.

Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment – A POLST is a medical order that is used to communicate medical care decisions to healthcare providers and emergency responders.

It’s About the Conversation

A good day tomorrow starts with a good talk today. If you became seriously ill, would the people who matter most really know what matters most to you? Share the kind of care that’s right for you, and what your good days look like—no matter what happens tomorrow.

Conversations clarify. We can’t plan for everything. But we can help manage life’s unknowns by talking openly about what matters to us and what we’d want most if we became seriously ill. Conversations about things we can’t control can actually help to give us a sense of control.

We can have a say in our care. Getting the health care we need often involves decisions, and we can and should speak up about the kind of care that works for us, and ask doctors to recognize what matters to us. Asking for what we want from our care also means telling those closest to us what we’d want if we couldn’t make decisions for ourselves.

Information is power. We can help answer tomorrow’s questions today by sharing our values and preferences with the people who matter most. We may not be able to predict every choice we’ll have to make, but we can give those we love the guiding principles to confidently make decisions for us.

If we don’t say it, they won’t know. Our caregivers may need to make decisions for us, whether we’ve told them what we want or not. We can’t simply assume they know.

You know you. We’re not doctors, but we’re the experts on what’s right for us and our lives. When we share our values, preferences and wishes with our doctors, we’re part of the team that helps us get the right care for us.

Having a say means getting the most out of every day. Serious illness care can involve choices that impact our quality of life. The more we speak up, the better care can be, and the more we’ll have the chance to receive the kind of care that works for us.

Honoring the wishes of those we care about means learning what matters to them. There may be a time when we have to help the people closest to us—our friends, our spouses, our parents or grandparents—get the care that’s right for them. Delivering on the promise means understanding what is most important to them in the face of serious illness.

Love means speaking up. If any of us became seriously ill, those closest to us may have to make important decisions about our care. Asking and sharing what would matter most to each other in that event is an act of love and kindness that can make future decisions easier—a gift we can give to those who matter most.

There’s no need to wonder. The future is full of unknowns. But open conversations can pave the way to clarity, no matter what happens with our health. Having conversations about serious illness and the kind of care that’s right for us gives us a shared understanding that fosters peace of mind.


Source: Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care