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Published on June 08, 2018

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The basics of advanced care planning

At Gundersen Health System, we believe advance care planning (ACP) is part of good healthcare. It involves thinking and talking about goals, values and healthcare choices. This process will help those closest to you and your healthcare team provide the best care when you can no longer decide for yourself. A written plan called an advance directive is the desired result.

All adults should start with basic planning. This is true no matter if they have been diagnosed with cancer or another medical condition or are healthy. Meaningful conversation is the best way to begin planning for future healthcare decisions. We invite you to meet with one of our trained facilitators at Gundersen. At no cost to you, he or she can guide and support you through each aspect of advance care planning.

Most adults should use an advance directive that includes a power of attorney for healthcare (POAHC). This form is legal in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. The document lets you appoint someone to be your healthcare agent. He or she can make choices on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so.

You can also put written instructions in this type of advance directive. The facilitator can help you complete the document. You can meet more than once if needed. Written documents are most helpful when you have taken the time to:

  • Understand the decisions you need to think about
  • Reflect on your values and goals
  • Discuss your choices with those close to you

Advance care planning is an ongoing process. You should review your advance directive every few years because your goals, values and health choices may change.

Adults living with chronic illness can participate in advance care planning specific to that illness. We call this conversation Next Steps.

Learn more about advance care planning or schedule an appointment by calling (608) 775-6000.

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