Planning For Care

Most Americans will face a serious illness for themselves or their loved ones at some time.

Very few of us have written down what treatments we want or don’t want as a guide to our loved ones when we can’t speak for ourselves.

The Hospice & Palliative Care Association of the Rockies has collected state and national resources to help you learn more about planning for your health care in advance.

We have a statewide group of professional speakers ready to come to your school, church, community center, club, or any other setting to offer an in-person presentation on advance care planning called "Communicating End-of-Life Wishes." For more information on this project, contact info@coloradohospice.org or call the Center at 303-848-2522.

Here is some guidance for a variety of different situations. Pick the one that fits your circumstances best.

How can I let others know what kind of care I want when I’m seriously ill?

First and often, talk to them. Talk to your family members, friends, doctors and nurses about what you would want, or not want, if you were to become seriously ill and unable to speak for yourself. This is what we call Advance Care Planning.

It is helpful, too, to write down your choices and plans. “Advance Directive” is a term that describes several ways to express preferences about medical treatments, especially at the end of life. These include “living wills,” medical durable powers of attorney, and the CPR directive. Please see table summarizing and comparing these various documents.

I need a written plan stating what kind of health care treatments I want (or don’t want) if I cannot speak for myself.

If you want to complete an advance directive right away go to www.caringinfo.org and click on the button for Advance Directives. Click here for the Colorado form. This will also allow you to designate a health care agent or decision maker.

I need help selecting a health care agent, or information on serving as a health care agent.

For more information on health care agents, click here.

I’m dealing with serious health problems for myself or a family member and need more information about treatment choices.

If you want general information on Advance Care Planning and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) you can also visit www.caringinfo.org and click on the heading Advance Care Planning.

I’d like to make some advance plans for my health care, but don’t really know where to begin or how to talk about it.

If you need a tool that can help you think and talk through the choices and decisions with your loved ones, there are two different sites we recommend. Both sites have tools available in Spanish. The first is www.practicalbioethics.org. Click on Caring Conversations. The second site is www.agingwithdignity.org. Click on 5 Wishes.

I need more information on Advance Care Planning for children with a serious illness.

Persons under the age of 18 cannot legally sign advance directive documents; their parents or legal guardians are responsible for their medical decisions. However, many children and especially teens can have a voice in the advance care planning process. When a baby, child, or teen faces serious illness, parents can meet with health care professionals and develop an advance care plan. The plan outlines in writing the parents’/child’s preferences for care in case of an emergency situation or in cases where all treatment options have been explored. Here’s what to do:

  1. Discuss with your physician his or her plan of care for your child, including palliative care for pain and other problems.
  2. Discuss whether a Colorado CPR Directive might be appropriate for your child in case of an emergency.
  3. Request a family conference with your physician and primary nurse. You may also want to include a social worker, spiritual advisor, or close family friend.
  4. If appropriate, talk over choices and likely results with your child and include him or her in your decisions. As parents, you have the final say, but even young children can benefit from being included in the decision making.