Horizon Planning® is not just about old age. At any age, a medical crisis could leave you too ill to make your own health care decisions. Even if you are not sick now, making health care plans for the future is an important step toward making sure you get the medical care you would want, even when doctors and family members are making the decisions for you.
More than one out of four older Americans face questions about medical treatment near the end of life, but are not capable of making those decisions. This is why it is important to have a conversation now about your wishes with your loved ones and your primary care provider (PCP). This should be a two-sided conversation. Knowing your preferences might take some of the burden off family and friends.
Horizon Planning involves learning about the types of decisions that might need to be made, considering those decisions ahead of time, and then letting others know about your preferences. Everyone has a health horizon. Let’s plan for it.
There are various phases in your health that might trigger a conversation about Horizon Planning. As an adult, you are never too young or too old to discuss your Horizon Plan®.
The first and most important step is to have a conversation with your loved ones and your PCP. There are also documents you can use to help you plan. Advance directives, including a living will, durable medical power of attorney and physician orders for life sustaining treatment (often abbreviated as POLST), are the three main documents included in a Horizon Plan. Your PCP and these documents can help you organize and write down your wishes so that if and when the situation arises your wishes can be known and followed.
Once completed, these documents can become part of your shared care plan in your electronic health record, often referred to as an "EHR." If completed prior to a meeting with your physician, advanced practice clinician or health coach, take them to your primary care office.
Horizon Planning™ and Horizon Plan™ are trademarks of WellSpan Health.
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