| |

Advance Care Planning – A Lifeline for Your Family

What if you suddenly found yourself in an emergency room unable to speak for yourself? Does your family know your wishes for life support decisions? 

Being prepared for a medical emergency is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family. When you can’t speak for yourself, you need a trusted agent who knows your values to make immediate life or death medical decisions on your behalf.

A newly released Netflix documentary entitled “Extremis” is a heart wrenching glimpse into the dilemmas faced by three families who must make tough decisions about their loved one’s fate. It’s twenty-four minutes well spent and a great motivator to create an Advance Care plan.

In this article we’ll review 3 important ways to prepare for a serious illness or medical emergency.

1. Create an Advance Care Plan

It’s tough to discuss the topic of death with your family and which medical interventions you want and do not want when facing a serious illness or emergency.

It’s tougher to put your family in the highly stressful position of guessing your wishes.

Advance Care Planning gives you a voice in your future healthcare decisions. Taking this step ensures:

  • Control – your wishes are respected at a time when you can’t speak for yourself
  • Family Cohesion – clear direction avoids family conflict about medical decisions
  • Quality of Life – your treatment reflects your stated desires for quality of life
  • Preparedness – clear direction for the medical team avoids delays in treatment
  • Dignity -your dignity is respected and your values and beliefs are honoured.

And although it’s impossible to be certain about the right choices to make in a life and death situation, there are resources that can help.

One such organization, Advance Care Planning Canada, provides information that guides you through the process of completing a plan.  

I used the company Plan Well Guide. Completing their ‘Guide to Exploring’ was eye-opening. I learned likely outcomes of  medical treatments and their impact on quality of life. And, upon completion of the process, it created a Dear Doctor letter outlining my wishes.

Check out their free Plan Well ‘Guide to Exploring’ here.

Are you and your family prepared for a serious illness or medical emergency?

2. Create a Personal Directive in Alberta and Appoint an Agent 

A Personal Directive in Alberta is a legal document that appoints someone, known as an agent, to make personal medical decisions related to your care if you can’t, such as caregiver oversight, pain management and life support.

This document provides the instructions your agent and family rely on when you’re facing a serious illness or medical emergency. Learn more about a Personal Directive in Alberta here.

Your Agent Under a Personal Directive Can Make Life and Death Decisions

The person you choose to act as your agent has the power to make life and death decisions on your behalf. Their decisions can determine your quality of life and the type of care you receive.

That’s why it’s critical to choose your agent wisely. Make sure this individual is:

  • Trustworthy – trust they will follow your wishes and act in your best interests 
  • Decisive – know they are able to make tough decisions under highly stressful situations
  • Informed – understands your values, preferences and responsibilities of their role
  • Good Communicator – adept at clearly communicating your wishes, managing family emotions, and acting as your advocate with medical professionals.

Being your agent is a big responsibility and the best way to ensure they represent you well is through the creation of an Advance Care Plan. Once you are clear on your specific wishes, these instructions are documented in your Personal Directive.

Financial Concierge™ offers Professional Power of Attorney services and can act as your agent or support your appointed agent.

A Personal Directive empowers your agent to make medical decisions that reflect your beliefs, your values and your definition of quality of life.

3. Communicate Your Advance Care Plan with Your Agent, Family, and Doctor

Advance Care Planning

Starting the conversation about advance care planning is a profound act of love. When family members are faced with making an immediate healthcare decision in an emergency room, they need to have confidence their decision will respect your wishes. 

Communicating your Advance Care Plan 

Some tips to unburden your family from the stress of guessing what you want:

  • Research the types of medical procedures to prolong life and learn what happens in emergency and ICU situations so you can determine what’s best for you
  • Meet with your agent and family to review the Advance Care Plan and discuss your choices
  • Make sure your agent and family have a copy of your Advance Care Plan and know where to access your Personal Directive
  • Review your Advance Care Plan with your doctor and leave a copy for their files.

Give your family peace and comfort by knowing the medical decisions made on your behalf are exactly what you wanted.


Being prepared for a medical emergency is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family. 

Advance Care Planning gives you control of your fate and a lifeline for your family saving them from indescribable grief. By defining your values and the criteria to make future medical decisions, you can be confident your voice will be heard and your wishes honoured.

Now is the time to create a plan and be prepared for the unexpected. 

Do you have an Advance Care Plan? We’d love to hear what you learned from the experience..

Financial Concierge™ offers Professional Executor and Power of Attorney services to assist your family members perform their executor or attorney duties when the time comes. Learn more about Financial Concierge™ here.

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not intended to be legal or financial advice and should not be construed as anything other than for information purposes.

Similar Posts