By Denise Stahl, Executive Director, UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute
Families are often given the difficult job of making critical decisions about the care of their loved ones who have become seriously ill and are unable to speak for themselves. But all too often, families are making those decisions without knowing exactly what their loved ones would have wanted. That’s why UPMC is joining with healthcare leaders across the country to encourage families to start the conversation about advance care planning for National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16.
Advance care planning is the process of planning ahead for future medical care should you become unable to make your own decisions due to a life-limiting illness or injury. The best time to think about advance care planning is before you are sick so that you understand what your options are and can communicate them to your loved ones and your doctor. An advance directive, or living will, is a written document stating your wishes that guides the decisions of the health care team and provides comfort to your family.