Plan Ahead For You and Your Family
April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions day, a time to raise awareness about the importance of advance care plans. Sometimes called an advance directive or living will, an advance care plan is a way to plan ahead for your medical care in case you cannot make your wishes known.
This kind of planning:
- Can be made at any time in your life.
- Gives you and your loved ones peace of mind.
- Helps prevent questions, confusion, and disagreements among family members.
- Advises health care providers what you want if you are unable to speak for yourself.
A lack of planning has personal and economic consequences:
- Family members may not know what you want and whether they are "doing the right thing" on your behalf.
- Getting care you didn't want can lead to unnecessary medical expenses for treatment, hospital stays, and nursing homes.
Put your care preferences in writing using an advance care form.
Think, Communicate, Decide, and Document
To create an advance care plan:
- Think about your wishes and preferences regarding health care while you are able.
- Talk with family members about your wishes and preferences.
- Decide who will be responsible for making decisions if you cannot.
- Most importantly, put your preferences in writing using an advance care form.
A Lack of Planning Has Economic Consequences
- Unnecessary medical expenses for treatment, hospital stays, and nursing homes.
Learn more about National Healthcare Decisions Day and watch a video highlighting the value of advance care planning.
CDC's Online Course for Professionals
Professionals in the public health and aging networks are in unique positions to help educate the public about the role and value of advance care planning. CDC now offers an online course especially for this audience. The course is free of charge and offers continuing education credits.
- National Healthcare Decisions Day
- Advance Care Planning—Selected Resources for the Public [PDF - 54.6KB]
- CDC Online Course for Professionals in Public Health and Aging Services
- CDC Critical Issue Brief on Advance Care Planning [PDF - 149KB]
- CDC's Healthy Aging Program
- Fact Sheets Designed to Help Older Adults and Their Families Plan for Care
- Page last reviewed: April 14, 2015
- Page last updated: April 14, 2015
- Content source:
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs