Advance Care Planning: A Gift to Yourself and Your Family

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Are you among the 70% of Americans who do not have an advance care plan in the event of a life-threatening illness or injury?

No one likes thinking about his or her final days, but this type of planning doesn’t have to be complicated. It is simply determining what type of life you are willing to accept in your final days. What does quality of life mean to you?

Want to be able to watch sports and drink a beer? Maybe you want to be able have dinner with your family, go fishing, or frolic in the rain. It’s all about what is meaningful to you and what tradeoffs you are willing to make to turn your wishes into reality.

Comedian Joan Rivers wrote in an advance care plan that she wanted to be able to go onstage for an hour and be funny. Her daughter, Melissa, told People Magazine that knowing what her mother would have wanted had she been able to speak, “was an amazing gift.”

“In a crisis, it’s difficult for your family to make hard decisions about your care,” says Lori Marshall, Hospice Director for Allegheny Health Network’s Healthcare@Home program. “Advance care planning empowers your family to make those decisions on your behalf.

“It’s not a one-time conversation. It requires time, sitting down with your loved ones, discussing what you want, and, more importantly, what you don’t want. But if you’ve had those conversations and have a plan in place, your family will be able to give you the quality of life you want.”

Hospice Care: It’s About Living Your Best Life

When creating your advance care plan, you should learn about and consider your options for hospice care. In the event that you receive a life-limiting diagnosis and treatments are no longer working, hospice care will help manage symptoms and pain so you can focus on living your best life.

“It’s a change in perspective,” says Marshall. “Your focus is on today, not down the line. Many patients live longer because we focus on living. Our goal each day is to make sure each patient is living the best life that they can that day.”

Hospice care is typically administered in the home and is less expensive than treatment in a hospital. Providers are available 24/7 and can help patients avoid inconvenient and costly trips to the emergency room.

Hospice is a Medicare covered benefit and you qualify based on your diagnosis and physical assessment. You are able to revoke hospice care at any time based on your need and desires.

Perhaps the most important benefit of hospice is the compassionate, skilled, and dedicated providers who support you and your family to keep you at home, wherever home may be.

“It’s a privilege to be there and help patients go through their end-of-life journey, and AHN’s Healthcare@Home program is a great benefit for patients,” says Marshall. “You have so many people working together to create a great, user-friendly patient experience. With Healthcare@Home, neither you, nor your family, ever feel like you’re out there all alone.”

 Visit for more information or call 1.800.381.8080 to get started with your advance care plan today.