Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why end-of-life planning is smart, necessary -

Why end-of-life planning is smart, necessary -

Thinking about death can be frightening, no matter your age or medical condition. As we get older, the reality of our own mortality tends to come into clearer focus; this doesn't make talking about death or life-sustaining treatments any less frightening though.

Advance care planning allows a person to make his or her wishes and care preferences known before being faced with a medical crisis. Advance care planning is simply smart life-planning.

An individual's personal wishes, beliefs and values are among the most important factors when making care decisions brought about by a serious or life-limiting illness. Such wishes and preferences can be known only if they are discussed openly.

An advance care planning consultation is not about limiting or rationing care. It's not about hastening death. It's not about having choices made for the patient. It's not about saving money.

Advance care planning is about examining options, planning and communicating the choices that the individual wants -- either to limit treatments, accept all treatments or something in between. The course charted is decided by individual patients, not their doctors, and certainly not the government.

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