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Advance care planning

Gain peace of mind by making your wishes known. Learn more helpful ways to start the conversation about your care. 

Visit the Conversation Project

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How to plan for your future care

Advance care planning is a part of healthy aging. It’s not just for people facing serious illness. OptumCare offers advance care planning to help you talk with your loved ones and doctor about the care you want if you become too sick to speak for yourself. 

One out of every three people will need someone to speak for them at some point. It’s best to be prepared. Creating your plan now can reduce stress and give you and your loved ones peace of mind. 

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Start the conversation 

Advance care planning starts with a conversation. Talk about your values, wishes and beliefs with your loved ones and doctor. 

Talking about this topic can be difficult. Try starting with these phrases:

  • "I need your help with something.”
  • “I need to think about the future. Will you help me?”
  • “I’d like to let you know what I want.”

Choose a health care agent

Once you start advance care planning, you need to select a health care agent to speak on your behalf. Your agent can be a friend or family member who will:

  • Be your advocate. 
  • Talk with your loved ones about your care.
  • Make sure your decisions are upheld.

Write down your plan 

Put your wishes and choices in writing. This will be used to help make decisions for you if you can’t speak for yourself. Share this plan with your loved ones. Be sure to go back and look it over when life changes or you change your mind on something. 

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Frequently asked questions

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  • Visit the Conversation Project. It offers helpful ways to start the conversation about what’s important to you. 
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  • An advance directive is any paperwork that tells what sort of care you want if you can’t speak for yourself. It also names who you’d want to speak for you. 
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  • A health care power of attorney is a legal paper that appoints someone to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself. It is often part of an advance directive.
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  • It’s best to talk to anyone who would be involved in choosing care for you if you couldn’t speak for yourself. That may include your doctor, family members, friends, clergy or others. Make sure they also have a copy of your advance directive.
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  • Talk with your family, friends and doctor about your values and goals. This can help you get the care you want. You may also ask about getting palliative care. 
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  • Palliative care is special medical care for people living with serious illness. It focuses on getting relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. To learn more about palliative care, talk with your doctor.
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  • POLST is Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. It’s a medical order to help people with a serious illness make sure they get the care they want if they can’t speak for themselves. For more information about POLST, click here

    Several states offer a similar program called Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST).

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