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Is advance care planning just for the elderly?

Maybe you already know why advance care planning is necessary, especially for the elderly. Getting your wishes down on paper means that doctors know what you want if a medical emergency strikes.

For instance, perhaps you have a stroke. You can't talk to the doctors in the hospital. They'll do all they can to save you, but what if you don't want to be resuscitated? What if you don't want to be put on life support? You can't tell them, and they're going to do it with no other indication as to how they should proceed.

People often think of this as they reach old age and the odds of a serious medical emergency, perhaps one resulting in death, grow higher. But is it just for the elderly?

It's not. It's also important for people of any age to get their wishes down on paper. It doesn't matter if you're 18 or 45 or 95. If you have not already done advance care planning, it's time to consider it.

Old age isn't the only thing that causes incapacitating injuries. You could be involved in a serious car accident on the way to school. You could fall off of a ladder at work. You may even have a heart attack or stroke far earlier than you anticipate. People often assume these ailments only strike when you're in your 70s and older, but people in their 20s and 30s also suffer from these health emergencies. It may not be as common, but it's possible.

Make sure you understand all of your options. Legally setting up your care plan well in advance can help you when you need it most.

Source: National Institutes of Health, "Advance Care Planning: Healthcare Directives," accessed March 30, 2018

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