Advance Care Planning FAQ

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Here are some common questions about advance care planning:

My family will know what to do - why do I have to write it down?

Recording your wishes (writing it down, making a video, etc.) helps make sure your wishes are clear for everyone. You may believe that they know what to do ‒ but perhaps they don’t. You can use what you have written in this workbook as a guide for the conversations you will have with your family and Substitute Decision Maker. For example, you may have said something like ‘pull the plug if I’m a vegetable’ ‒ but you need to be clear about what that really means to you. Your family may also have questions about the choices that you’ve made. In some provinces/territories you can prepare a ‘directive’ as part of this process. Our provincial/territorial resources include links to specific legal requirements in your province or territory.

What if my Substitute Decision Maker is not able or willing to make decisions for me?

Health care professionals will approach family members as directed in provincial or territorial legislation. Our provincial/territorial resources include links to specific legal requirements in your province or territory.

What if I change my mind?

Life changes, and so may your wishes for health care. Make sure you review your plan regularly, and make sure that Substitute Decision Maker is still willing and able to make decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself.

I have a Living Will ‒ isn’t that good enough?

A living will is a type of advance care planning ‒ but it’s also more important that you have a conversation with those who will make decisions about your care ‒ they may have questions about your wishes. Advance care planning is not just about documenting a plan – it’s about reflecting on what’s important to you, and having conversations with your Substitute Decision Maker and others.

Learn more about the difference between Living Wills and Advance Care Plans

These types of documents are only for old people, right?

You can’t predict how and when you’ll die. If you are an adult, you should do advance care planning. You can change your plan as often as you like, and as your life changes. But don’t just write it down – the most important thing to do is to have a conversation with the person or people who will make decisions for you when you can’t.