Helping family and friends on their ACP journey

If you have an advance care plan in place, you may find yourself wondering whether your loved ones also have a plan. Knowing what matters most to them can help you honor their wishes, more easily navigate future medical decisions, and give you peace of mind.

Here are some ways you might start the conversation:

“I love you and wouldn’t want to do anything you didn’t agree with. It would make me feel better, though, if I knew what was important to you. Will you tell me what matters most to you if you were ever too sick to speak for yourself?”

After a movie or news story that touches on end-of-life issues: “What would you want us to do if you were in this situation?”

Remind them of an experience with someone at the end of life: “Remember when Grandma died?” Ask how they felt about it and what they would want for themselves.

Try to avoid talking about specific medical treatments or decisions, which may be scary and overwhelming. Instead, ask about concerns they have and if there is someone they trust to make decisions for them.

How to serve as a health care proxy:

  • If you have agreed to be someone’s health care proxy, consider these tips:
  • Ask about their current and future health concerns
  • Have conversations about ACP every year and as major life changes happen
  • Get a copy of their advance directive forms and other important information, like contacts for doctors and family members

Remember, you do not need to be a health care proxy to support a person as they make advance care plans. Any family-member or friend can help their loved one think through their health care decisions and advocate for their wishes. For recommendations, explore Advance Care Planning Tips for Caregivers and Families.

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