What is Advance Care Planning?

Advance Care Planning is planning for future medical wishes if you should ever be unable to make those decisions for yourself. The process of Advance Care Planning is important for anyone 18 years or older. You can find free legal documents (also called advance directives) and other legal Colorado forms on this website.

Advance Care Planning Checklist

Here are some steps to consider as you plan for your future. You do not need a lawyer or an elder law specialist. We have provided free resources, like a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will.

  • Gather information and start a conversation with family, friends and your doctor about your values and wishes.
  • Choose a medical decision maker to act on your behalf if you are ever unable to make decisions for yourself because of illness or injury.
  • Write down your wishes that list how you would like to be cared for if you could not speak for yourself.
  • In the cases of serious illness, a doctor can help you write down medical choices related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, nutrition and medical interventions.
  • Share your wishes and documents with family, friends and providers.

Key Advance Care Planning Definitions

  • Medical Durable Power of Attorney – A person who would speak on your behalf and make medical decisions for you if you were unable to do so because of an illness or injury. It is important to choose an individual as your Medical Durable Power of Attorney who would follow your wishes based on your stated beliefs and values.  This gives you control over your choices, even when you are not able to speak for yourself.
  • Living Will  – A document that has guidelines for your family, friends and healthcare team of the specific medical treatment you would want to receive should you be unable to make those wishes known.
  • Palliative Care – Palliative care is medical care for people with serious illnesses. The goal of palliative care is to manage symptoms, provide comfort, and to improve the quality of life. Most people receiving palliative care can continue their curative treatments. Palliative care can be delivered in the hospital, at outpatient clinics, or at home. Not all hospitals have palliative care programs and not all insurances cover the cost of palliative care.
  • Hospice – Hospice is a type of palliative care for people near the end of life. The goal of hospice is to deliver care that focuses on providing comfort to seriously ill people near the end of their life. Hospice does not cure disease but provides pain and symptom control along with emotional and spiritual support to patients and loved ones. Most hospice care is provided at home.
  • Colorado Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) – This form discusses medical decisions about certain life sustaining treatments. This form is not for all people. This document is intended for individuals with serious illness or frailty. It is best to talk about this form with your provider.
  • CPR Directive – CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. CPR is provided to a person whose heart has stopped pumping blood (a condition known as cardiac arrest). CPR includes rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation), chest compressions, and sometimes electrical shock and medications to start the heart beating again. A CPR directive tells EMS personnel or other medical providers not to do CPR in the event your heart stops or you stop breathing.