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It is a good idea to clarify your own point of view and what medical care you might want. You can do this by thinking about what you expect from medical treatment and what you hope it achieves.
Being sick affects people in many different ways. Illness can cause physical and emotional symptoms including pain, discomfort, distress and disability. Sometimes it can stop you from living your normal life and doing the things that you want and enjoy doing.
Advance care planning involves thinking about the sort of treatment that you would want to have now and in the future.
Before you can make informed decisions about your medical care, you need to understand:
We encourage you to gather information from your doctors, family and friends and other people who might be able to assist you such as spiritual advisers, alternative therapists or support groups.
Questions about living well & your future goals
Many people want any possible treatment to prolong their life as long as possible. This is a perfectly reasonable request. However, doctors will only provide treatment that might be medically beneficial, and will not provide treatment, which has no possibility of benefit,
Questions about your health now and any illness you may have
Questions about your treatment
Many people who do not have an illness and who are otherwise fit and healthy still want to do advance care planning because they feel strongly about certain treatments and/or want their doctors to be informed about what it means for them to live the way they want. They also want to reduce the decision making burden placed on their loved ones.
There are many different types of treatments that can be used to sustain life. Usually, such treatment involves replacing biological functions such as breathing naturally or eating. Such treatments may be used when it is expected that recovery will occur and the treatment will be temporary.
However, there are situations where recovery might not be possible and the proposed treatment would then be expected to be long term, possibly for the rest of the person’s life.
Further information about life-prolonging treatments and the choices people have when deciding whether or not to have such treatments, click: Choices About Life Prolonging Treatments.
For many people, rather than asking them to make difficult decisions about different types of medical treatment for different types of conditions, it is more helpful, and often easier, to ask people to consider what they would regard as an acceptable or desirable outcome if they were to receive any type of treatment for any type of illness.