The Importance of Advance Care Planning in Parkinson’s Care

Terminal illnesses and end-of-life decisions are issues that make most people uncomfortable, and they’d rather not talk about them. Regardless of how uncomfortable and tough these issues may be, you’ll need to make an advance plan about them to ensure that wishes and needs are met.

Advance planning is important when you’re dealing with life-threatening conditions, which may hamper your mental ability to make objective decisions.

This article will highlight the significance and types of Advanced Care Planning (ACP) protocols among patients with Parkinson’s disease.

What’s advanced care planning (ACP)

ACP is a continuous process that allows patients to engage with their family, friends, and healthcare practitioners as they reflect on their values, goals, needs, beliefs, and deliberate on how these factors should influence their present and future care. The information gathered from such discussions is documented and used to inform future choices in the disease management services sector.

What is the importance of ACP in disease management?

  • ACP provides a platform for patients to engage their healthcare practitioners, family members, and friends into the decision-making process that will influence their care. ACP ensures that your needs, wishes, values, and beliefs are upheld when undergoing treatment even when you’ll be unaware of it.
  • ACP provides a clear protocol on how the documented decisions from the ACP discussions will be used in defining your home care plan, and this prevents conflicts.
  • ACP can improve the quality of your life by granting you control over it even when you’re not able to communicate your decisions. It can also ensure that all personal information on values, beliefs, and wishes is available for healthcare practitioners to use when making choices about your care.

What types of ACP can fit a Parkinson’s care plan?

Verbal advance care plans: ACPs can take the simple form of an honest and open talk with the entire healthcare team and your loved ones. As part of the verbal advance care plan, you may choose to appoint a substitute decision-maker (SDM) who will help your healthcare team to implement your Parkinsons care plan. You may also opt to choose your SDM as your legally appointed guardian.

Written advance care plans: The written plan is more accurate and long-lasting than the verbal advance care plan. The written plan is also important for new healthcare team members that may get enjoined into your treatment plan in the future. Your present healthcare team may not be available to implement your Parkinsons care plan in the future. But with a well-documented advance care plan, it’s possible to get your wishes captured in accurate way.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition that spans an extensive period of time. You should thus ensure that your SDM, guardian, residential care facility, and principal doctor have a copy of this written advance care plan.

Advance directives

Advance directives are also some kind of an ACP that can inform the implementation of a Parkinsons care plan. These directives are legal documents, which get implemented once you get incapacitated and unable to communicate. Examples of advance directives include:

  • A living will that can define emergency treatment options when you’re unable to communicate.
  • A durable power of attorney is also part of the commitments that assign a proxy who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you can’t communicate
  • DNR, which is a ‘do not resuscitate order.’

There are different laws in each state that govern the implementation of advance directives. As such, it is important for you to consider the kind of laws that exist in your state and how they can influence your Parkinson’s care plan, advance directives, and advance care plans.

In the U.S, an estimated 80% of the elderly population has at least one chronic condition, and 68% have at least two or more chronic conditions. If you have Parkinson\’s disease or other conditions such as Alzheimer’s, or dementia, you shouldn’t wait till such life-ending conditions make you unable to communicate and plan for your home care needs. Start early and create a comprehensive Parkinsons care plan or dementia home care plan, and you’ll be safe in the future.