Most people don’t think about advanced care planning. At least until they have a medical procedure or another type of setback with their health. Advanced care planning is just as important as any other type of planning you do for the future. This post outlines what advance care planning is. What an advance directive is, the meaning of POLST, and what forms you should have.

What is Advance Care Planning?

Advanced care planning is a series of decisions about the kind of care you want to have if you become seriously ill or lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself. The decisions you make about your care are put into one or more document. They help guide your family members, friends, and physicians to make decisions that align with your values and your desires. Many people think of advance care planning documents as living ones because they can be updated at any time if you make a different decision.

Advance Directives

An advance directive is the most common advance care planning document. Other states refer to it as a living will or a power of attorney. When you create your advanced directive, it is considered an instruction from you to your physician and the person or persons you designate to act on your behalf. But it is not a medical order.

Physician Orders for Life Saving Treatment (POLST)

A POLST form is a bright pink form that is intended to help people with a serious illness have more control over the type of care they receive at the end of their life. It is a type of advance care planning that attempts to prevent unnecessary or ineffective treatment, and it saves family and friends unnecessary heartache. The form contains your goals and wishes for care, including whether you want:

  • Antibiotics and IV fluids administered
  • To be on a ventilator to help you breathe
  • Receive artificial nutrition by tube
  • CPR attempted if you stop breathing

Like with an advance directive, a POLST can be changed at any time. It is recommended that a POLST be updated if you move to a different place, there’s a change in your health status, or your treatment preferences change.

POLST programs are available in other states. But California forms are only valid in California. If you travel or leave the state, it’s recommended to take an advance directive and a POLST with you so that doctors know your wishes.

Advance care planning is an important part of aging. But so is planning for the care you need at home in the near future. Optimal Senior Care Solutions provides in-home senior care services to seniors in Orange County and Newport Beach, CA. Reach out to us to learn more about our services.