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Advance Health Care Planning

Advance health care planning is the umbrella term for decision-making about your health care wishes while you are healthy.  Advance Care Planning includes filling out documents such as the Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Five Wishes, etc, but really refers to the conversations that you have with your loved ones about what kind of medical treatment you’d like to have if you cannot speak for yourself. This certainly includes decision-making about the end of life, but can also mean health care treatments and therapies even in times where you are expected to live but may not be able to make decisions for yourself. These conversations are important to have as you or your parents or loved ones age, but are also critical when you are young.

Below are a number of resources and programs that you can use personally, with family or in a congregation to have these conversations.

Advocate Health Care Respecting Choices Workshops

Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care Form

The Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to choose someone to make decisions for you about your medical treatment if you are not able to make decisions for yourself.

Living Will

The Living Will directs your physicians and family members to withhold or withdraw treatments that would prolong life and to allow you to die naturally, with provisions made for your comfort.

Five Wishes

Five Wishes lets your family and doctors know:

  • Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them.
  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
  • How comfortable you want to be.
  • How you want people to treat you.
  • What you want your loved ones to know.

Five Wishes has become America’s most popular living will because it is written in everyday language and helps start and structure important conversations about care in times of serious illness. Available in 26 languages.

Before You Die

Before You Die is a 32-page collection of reflections and resources—both practical and spiritual—that talk about death with sensitivity, directness, and even a touch of humor by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group of the United Church of Christ (UCC).

Eight UCC pastors and writers share their insight, advice and clear-eyed consolation about death in reflections such as:

  • “What Will Happen After I Die?”
  • “I’m Dying and No One Will Let Me Talk about It”
  • “When It’s Good to Have a Church”
  • “Advance Directives:  A Faith Perspective”
  • “My Green Funeral”
  • “Cremation vs. Burial”

Includes a funeral planning checklist, suggested Scripture readings and hymns and a glossary.

What Y’all Gon’ Do With Me? The African American Spiritual and Ethical Guide to End of Life Care

Guide prepared by Heart Tones addressing historical, cultural and spiritual factors that influence African-Americans’ decisions about end-of-life care and planning.

Talk Early Talk Often

A website resource full of practical solutions, tools and resources for having those tough conversations about the critical decisions that need to be made as people age and face life-threatening illnesses. Created by a pastor who has worked with people and their families in congregations and in hospice and who has also worked through these issue with her own aging parents.

A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.