The top five myths about advance care planning

The spread of coronavirus around the world is causing a great deal of uncertainty right now. People are worried about their own health, as well as the health of loved ones, and there are serious economic and employment concerns too.

Though some of us might begin to feel panicked by coronavirus, it’s far better to plan in situations such as these.

Today (Monday) is the start of National Advance Care Planning Week, and so a good time to begin thinking about what happens if you or a loved one suddenly becomes unwell. Have you thought about who would make medical decisions on your behalf? Would they know what to choose? 

The coronavirus pandemic presents conversations about the end of life in a different light. And preparing an Advance Care Directive is easier than you might think.

We’ve uncovered the top five myths that can sometimes discourage people from taking the first steps to preparing their own Advance Care Directive, or to begin talking about it with their loved ones.

1. It’s just for old people

We tend to live our lives as if we are invincible, but sudden, life-changing events can happen to anyone, at any time. In fact, one-third of Australians will die before the age of 75. 

Just as you would plan for other major life events such as retirement, it’s worth planning your care in advance so you are well-prepared, no matter what the future brings.

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2. It’s morbid

Death and taxes are the only two certainties in life, so it’s strange that squeamishness about dying prevails. 

Death is a natural part of life. It’s not morbid, and it doesn’t hasten death. 

In fact, conversations about advance care planning should be considered an important part of healthy ageing.

3. It requires a solicitor

While you can develop an Advance Care Directive with the assistance of a solicitor, it is not a legal requirement. You will however need to have the legal forms signed by a doctor, who can help you develop a plan that’s clear, coherent and aligns with your values.

4. It’s about dying

It may come as a surprise but writing an Advance Care Directive is one of the most life-affirming things you can do. Advance care planning is a powerful statement about who you are, how you want to live and what you value most about living. 

It’s also one of the most loving gifts we can offer our family and those left to make difficult decisions should we become too sick to speak for ourselves.

5. It’s too hard

Advance care planning does require some thought and discussion about your values and preferences, but it’s less difficult that you might think. 

Access to the legal forms is free (though they do differ from state to state). 

Free personalised support is also available through the National Advance Care Planning Advisory Service on 1300 208 582.

For more information go to www.acpweek.org.au.

Image: Silvia Jansen, iStock.

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  1. I am a relatively fit & healthy 42 year old non-smoker & I have a “living will”. I wanted my family to know that, should I be involved in an accident that put me in a position of requiring artificial life support long term, I would rather be let go & any salvageable organs donated. Even if you don’t want to go to the trouble of engaging a solicitor like I did, it is still an important conversation to have with your loved ones, regardless of your age & health status.

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