Abstract: Advance care planning has become a much touted and potentially very important addition to the new operative structure of meeting the many challenges of an ever increasingly older population. From what used to be discussions about CPR and DNR the process has evolved into what many expect might become the basis of end-of-life decision-making that may assist family members and health care providers to meet the needs, wishes and priorities of the elderly population, particularly when they are nearing that last trajectory of life.
Key Words: Artificial nutrition and hydration, advance care planning, living wills, end-of-life planning.
1. Planning before there is a medical crises can help avoid medical decisions that may not be in keeping with your wishes and values.
2. Artificial nutrition and hydration may not be what you really want, even though in its simplest form it may seem desirable as a way of avoiding death.
Communication with those who will be responsible for decision-making when you are no longer able to do so is key to having your end-of-life wishes fulfilled and should not be left to crises situations.
If you have favorite foods, make sure your substitute decision-makers know about them so that when the time comes you will not be deprived of your most enjoyed foods, because some health care provider deems them to be "unhealthy" or not in keeping with an "optimal diet".
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Discussing End-of-Life Care with Older Patients: What Are You Waiting For?
Mary Anne Huggins, MD, CCFP, DABHPC, Palliative Care Services, Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network; Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. Laura Brooks, BScN, MScN, ACNP, Palliative Care Services, Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, Toronto, ON.
Discussing end-of-life care with older patients is very important, as it ensures their preferences are known and they retain control over their care decisions even when they may no longer be actively involved in them. Unfortunately, these discussions do not always occur, and when they do occur, they are not always done well. There are patient and physician barriers to advanced care planning. Physicians may lack the skills necessary to accomplish the task of making decisions for future care. In this article we discuss advanced care planning, its importance as well as related challenges and barriers. We then outline a practical approach to advanced care planning for older adults. Key words: end-of-life care, advance directives, advanced care planning, living wills, substitute decision-maker.