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What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is making decisions about the care you would want to receive if you became unable to speak for yourself. These are your decisions to make, regardless of the choice for care. These decisions are based on your own personal values, beliefs and preferences. Part of the planning process is to share your wishes with your family, friends and medical providers.

Advance care planning includes:

  1. Personal reflection about what matters most to you about care at the end of life including: 

  • Identifying cultural, religious, spiritual or personal beliefs that might influence treatment choices

  • Exploring goals of medical care in the event of a terminal diagnosis or severe, permanent brain injury and a poor cognitive outcome (i.e., the individual is unlikely to recover the ability to know who they are or whom they are with)

  2. Choosing your health-care agent to express your wishes and navigate the              healthcare system on your behalf if you are unable to

  3. Documenting preferences through written advance directives

  4. Developing strategies to share your wishes with: 

  • your health-care agent

  • family 

  • friends 

  • medical providers 

  5. Ensuring your wishes are honored by providing the advance directives to      

      appropriated family, friends and medical providers

Why should advance care planning matter to me?

Accidents and sudden severe illness do not discriminate and can happen to people of all ages. In Colorado, it is particularly important to have someone designated - in writing - as your medical health care agent. Your Medical Durable Power of Attorney is the document that allows your representative to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot. Every day people arrive in the emergency rooms of hospitals unable to communicate. In these situations, having advance directives ensures that your doctor knows your wishes about the kind of treatment you want, as well as the person you choose to make medical decisions on your behalf. We recommend that any legal-aged adult have a completed advance care plan. 

What are advance directives?

Advance directives document your health-care wishes and are used if you are unable to communicate for yourself. The most common directives include:

  • Medical Durable Power of Attorney. A document that legally appoints a health-care agent to make medical decisions for you when you are not able to

  • Advance Directive for Surgical/Medical Treatment (also known as a Living Will). This directive is used only when a physician (or physicians) has determined that the patient has a terminal condition or is in a permanent vegetative state. The directive documents your wishes related to life-sustaining procedures and artificial nutrition. 

What are the different forms in an advance care plan?

Click here to see a list of forms and descriptions. 

Can the Larimer Advance Care Planning Team help with financial power of attorney or last will and testaments?
NO. The Larimer ACP Team can only help individuals with medical directives. If you are looking for resources to help with legal documents like power of attorney, wills, or trusts, please click here to visit our resources page and look under the "Legal" section. 
What does the Larimer Advance Care Planning Team do?


The Larimer Advance Care Planning Team guides adults in deciding their wishes for end-of-life care and in documenting those wishes through advance care directives. We want to make advance care planning a part of the continuum of health care for all adults. 

It’s time to start talking about dying, time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives, and it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves. Together, we can make these difficult conversations easier. We can work toward making our own wishes and those of our loved ones expressed and respected. If you’re ready to start your conversations and make your wishes for end-of-life care known, let us guide you through the process of advance care planning. The Larimer Advance Care Planning Team services are provided at no cost.

The Larimer Advance Care Planning Team:

  • Guides individuals through the advance care planning process

  • Ensures advance directives are shared with appropriate family, friends and health-care providers

  • Promotes advance care planning through community presentations

  • Serves as a resource for organizations to refer individuals to for more help in advance care planning

  • Coordinates with other existing advance care planning efforts within Larimer County


Myths vs Facts. . . 

MYTH: Advance care planning is only for the elderly or the terminally ill. 
FACT: Anyone, at any age can become suddenly ill or severely injured and need to make decisions about potential health-care treatments. In Colorado, it is particularly important to designate your decision-maker with a Medical Durable Power of Attorney.
MYTH: Talking about advance care planning needlessly worries our children and other loved ones. 
FACT: Talking about health-care wishes now relieves the burden on the family of having to make decision(s) in a time of crisis and ensures your wishes are upheld. 

MYTH: I need a lawyer to complete my advance care directives. 
FACT: Our team can guide you through the necessary documents. If appropriate, a physician or medical professional may need to sign your CPR directive or Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) form.
MYTH: If I sign an advance care directive, I won't be able to get medical treatment. 
FACT: Expressing treatment wishes through advance directives may be for any/all treatment, or to withhold any/all treatment. The choice about how much/how little care or quality/quantity of life is up to each individual. You will always be able to make these decisions until it is clear that you lack capacity to make decisions for yourself
MYTH: I'm a parent or spouse so I will automatically have medical power to make decisions for my child or spouse. 
FACT: Selecting a health-care agent is important in Colorado. Parents do not automatically have the power once their children are legal adults. Spouses may not be recognized as the main decision-maker for their partner if there is a family dispute over medical treatment. Therefore, it's important to designate your health-care agent by completing a Medical Durable Power of Attorney with your advance care plan.  
MYTH: Once I create my plan, it's final and I won't be able to change my documents.
FACT: You can revisit your plan at any time! We recommend revisiting and potentially updating your advance care directives whenever there is a death that is close to you, a decline in your health, a divorce, you've moved, or a diagnosis of a serious medical condition is given. If you are fortunate to go a decade without any of these happening, it may be a good idea to revisit your plan to be sure everything fits with your values, wishes and preferences. Whatever document has the most recent date takes precedence over past documents.

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