Advance Care Planning

Honoring Care Decisions, Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning assists in choosing the kind of care you want in the future and identifying someone to speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. 

Good advance care planning helps you explore your goals and values with your family and your health care providers before you become ill. You document your wishes and the name of the person who will speak for you in an advance directive.

Schedule an advance care planning meeting with your Primary Care team’s collaborative care nurse today! Reach Cheshire’s Primary Care teams by calling

What is advance care planning?

It is simply planning in advance for your care. It is an important process that includes talking with those closest to you about the things that matter most to you. This is best done with the aid of a trained advance care planning facilitator. 

By sharing your goals and values with someone you trust, you can maintain control over decisions about your care—especially if you lose the ability to communicate or make decisions on your own behalf. Most people will lose this ability at some time during their life due to a serious illness or accident. 

When a doctor determines that you are unable to make decisions on your own behalf, your health care team needs to speak with someone who knows your goals, values, and wishes.

A blonde woman holds the hand of an older woman, presumably her mother

The importance of advance care planning

Few want to burden loved ones with difficult decisions during times of emotional distress. You make decisions about your care for yourself by creating an advance care directive and designating a healthcare agent while you’re able.

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“I’m too young and healthy for advance care planning”

The best time to have these conversations and complete an advance directive is before you are ill, when you can carefully consider your options.

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Bring a copy of your advance directive to your next appointment or mail it to: Medical Records Office, Cheshire Medical Center, 580 Court St, Keene, NH 03431.

What is an advance directive?

An advance directive is a legal document in which you name someone who will make medical decisions with your health care team on your behalf. The person you choose becomes your “health care agent” (also called “health care proxy”). They will work with the health care team to understand your choices and share the goals and values most important to you. Having an advance directive allows you to maintain control over who will speak on your behalf. 

It is important to know

  • An advance directive with your stated preference is not a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.
  • An advance directive is not used unless a physician declares you as unable to make your own decisions. 
  • You do not need an attorney to complete an advance directive. 

What if I don’t complete an advance directive and identify my health care agent?

New Hampshire has a law naming a “surrogate” to speak on your behalf for up to 90 days. Although this delays the need to go to court to assign an agent, the person assigned may not be the person you would choose as your agent. They also may not know your goals and values well enough to make the decisions you would prefer if you could speak for yourself. 

What if I change my mind?

You can change your advance directive at any time by destroying your current copy and filling out a new one. You should replace all previous copies with your new advance directive by sending copies to your doctor, health care agent, and others so they are aware of any changes you make. 

Where should I keep copies of my advance directive?

Keep the original copy with your important documents where it can be easily found. Most people scan copies of their advance directive to keep on their own computer and easily share with family members. You should give copies to:

  • Your health care providers
  • Your family members
  • The person you choose to be your health care agent
  • Your primary care provider or our medical records office to put into your electronic medical file

How do I start advance care planning or complete an advance directive?

  • If your primary care provider is affiliated with Cheshire Medical Center, call your Primary Care team and ask for an advance care planning appointment with your team’s collaborative care nurse.
  • Cheshire is fortunate to have highly-trained volunteer facilitators who frequently advise patients at a table in our lobby. Stop by and talk to them for an appointment or more information next time you visit. 
  • Check our calendar and register for upcoming advance care planning events.

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