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Who Will Speak for You

Advance Care Planning is a way to assure yourself that your wishes will be known and honored should you be unable to speak for yourself due to illness or injury.


Nearly nine out of 10 upstate New York adults are aware of the term, “health care proxy,” according to a survey commissioned by Excellus BCBS. Among respondents who had heard the term, 89 percent know that it is a way to legally designate someone as your health care agent to represent you during a medical crisis if you can’t speak for yourself.

Planning for future medical care in case you are unable to make your own decisions is called Advance Care Planning. Advance Care Planning is a way to assure yourself that your wishes will be known and honored should you be unable to speak for yourself due to illness or injury. Many people turn to their spiritual community when making choices regarding end-of-life care. Advance Care Planning does not conflict with the practices of any of the major organized religions.

Excellus BCBS encourages all adults ages 18 and older to start conversations with their health care providers and then extend them to family members and trusted friends.  It’s not just for older adults or for people with a serious illness. Anyone can suddenly lose the ability to make his/her own medical decisions about the treatment they wish to receive, and what they would like to avoid.

The ultimate goal is for all adults to have conversations and complete a health care proxy to choose and formally name a health care agent who is aware of their values, beliefs and goals for care and treatment and is willing to speak on their behalf.

Advance Care Planning is a process, not just a set of documents. Advance Care Planning consists of:

 

  • Becoming educated about Advance Care Planning
  • Learning about your values and beliefs
  • Choosing an appropriate Spokesperson (referred to as the Agent in the Health Care Proxy) and an Alternate
  • Reviewing your wishes with your Spokesperson, Alternate, physician, spiritual advisor, and loved ones.
  • Completing two documents collectively known as Advance Care Directives: The New York Health Care Proxy and the New York Living Will. Both of these documents are included in the booklet.
  • Reviewing and updating these forms periodically or as needed.
  • Conducting on-going discussions with your Spokesperson, Alternate, physician, spiritual advisor, and loved ones.

 

Advance Care Directives apply only when the need arises and you are unable to speak for yourself.

Those individuals caring for you at the end-of-life will not have the guilt associated with guessing your wishes since you have already had conversations with your loved ones, spokesperson, alternate, and physician(s). Advance Care Planning permits “peace of mind” for you and your family by reducing uncertainty and helping to avoid confusion or conflict over your care.

To start your own conversations, download the infographic, Who Will Speak for You?, at https://bit.ly/2XRpeni.

 

Additional advance care planning resources:  

www.CompassionAndSupport.org 

www.nhdd.org