Advance Care Planning: How to Prepare for Future Healthcare Needs in Singapore
Some people say your life starts at 30 because this is the time where you begin to plan for your family if you have one already. If you haven’t, this is the time when you start investing, like buying your own house, car, and more things you worked hard on. At this age, you also begin to think about your future and the end of your life. You also start to think about your parents, who have been helping you reach your dreams from the very beginning. They provided a lot for you to become the person you want to be, that’s why it is only valid to think about their future.
Your life starts at 30, but our family and your life will continue to run like a ticking time bomb. As both of you age, both are more prone to illnesses and diseases that we never thought they would get. As we start to get serious with our lives, it is also time to get serious with our family and talk about the reality of aging; that is, our health.
This article will explain what Advance Care Planning (ACP) is, why it is an essential conversation for our families, and how to obtain one.
What is Advance Care Planning?
In a nutshell, Advance Care Planning or ACP is about starting a conversation with your healthcare provider about the patient’s future health and personal care. It involves a series of talks about patients’ wishes for their loved ones, doctors, involved organizations, and even trained facilitators.
To simply put, this is someone’s way to figure out what kind of personal or health care someone wants to receive just in case they become very ill in the future.
Why do you need Advance Care Planning?
We are aware that this can be a very overwhelming topic for some, especially for the elders. It is still a taboo topic in Singapore, and many people are still intimidated by this. But the reality of life is that eventually, we have to make tough decisions that we never thought we would come across. That is why if you are ready to talk about these things, ACP is perfect for you.
There is no shame in starting a conversation about this. In retrospect, talking about this matter puts us on solid ground about the reality of life and why we should not take things for granted while we are here on earth. Of course, aside from this, there are many more benefits on starting an Advance Care Planning:
- Starting Advance Care Planning means you will proactively communicate with your nominated healthcare spokesperson about the wishes and values you want to get from your healthcare provider. It is crucial, especially when the time comes that you become so ill that you will not be able to speak for yourself.
- It will help your healthcare providers to make treatment decisions or health plans that will adhere to your personal beliefs, values, and personal goals of care. Your healthcare provider will actively listen to your needs and wants, and they will make a perfect plan from those.
- Planning for this will reduce the burden on your family on making treatment decisions. Since you have already designed and stated the things you want to receive just in case you are in a place where you become ill, your family knows what to do already.
Finding the best ACP for you
There are many ways to deal with this subject. Different approaches are suitable depending on your needs. When you start looking for the best plans for you, try to follow these simple steps:
1. Think about what is essential for you
There are things you may not need right now, but you will need them eventually. You might have to start to think outside the box and think ten or even 20 years in the future. With this, you will begin to think about your actual needs and wants more seriously.
2. Talk about it
Since this is ACP, you constantly communicate your future needs to your ACP facilitators. Planning does not stop in one session because there are things beyond our control, and there are life changes that we sometimes do not expect. Open communication and being honest with your situation and what you want are the way to go.
This part is also the time where you can start talking to your Nominated Healthcare Spokesperson or NHS. Your NHS should be someone you truly trust and shares the exact wishes and concerns with you. In most cases, you can choose your NHS within your family or even have your trusted friends. Also, they have to be under these conditions:
- They have to be at least 21 years old
- They have to be someone who knows you well, like a family member or a friend.
- They have to be someone who you trust to act for your good, especially when the time comes where you are not mentally capable of making decisions for yourself.
- They have to be someone who can handle stressful situations and fully understand the responsibility they are entrusted with.
3. Put your wishes into a plan
When we say you have to document everything, you have to. Start from asking for copies of the meetings you had with your ACP facilitator and your NHS to writing every change in your life. It is vital because your ACP facilitator needs this to keep track of your plans and just in case there are unprecedented changes.
4. Continuously review and improve the ACP
As we have said, the planning is not always linear, and it does not stop in a day. Your life is always exposed to changes beyond your control, which also changes your goals and decisions.
Always review your ACP every few years (every 2 to 5 years is ideal) to ensure it still adheres to your needs. Aside from that, it is best to review your ACP when these things happen:
- You are celebrating a decade of your life.
- When you are diagnosed with a significant medical illness.
- When you change some things in your daily routine.
Remember to update your NHS when you’ve made some changes in your ACP and update your ACP facilitator. You can continue this process as long as you are mentally capable of doing so.
Three Approaches of ACP
There are different situations to consider when availing for ACP. In general, ACP can be categorized into three approaches, and these approaches answer explicitly the needs of every situation that an individual may experience:
1. General ACP
This is the common ACP where you get an NHS, meet an ACP facilitator, and this is to plan for your future goals. You can prepare it as early as possible.
2. Disease-Specific ACP
This is the perfect ACP for those who have life-limiting illnesses or illnesses that can progressively worsen, such as Diabetes, Cancer, and other life-threatening diseases. Since this is Disease-Specific, the ACP that you will get is tailored-fit to adhere to an individual’s conditions.
3. Preferred Plan of Care
This is the ACP for those patients who are slowly deteriorating and have little to no means to make decisions for themselves. If a patient has more than 12 months prognosis and requires long-term institutional care, this is the required ACP.
It is time to get started
Take a deep breath and think ahead of you. The future is beautiful, and there are things that we should always look forward to. But while we enjoy the great things in life, it is also time to think realistically. The things we enjoy right now are not permanent, and as they say in a saying, “the only constant thing in this world is change.”
If you want to inquire about ACP, check this directory to see the nearest hospitals that offer the best ACP for you. Additionally, if you’re going to explore more ways to ensure a promising future for yourself, sign up for our future events.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Professional Investment Advisory Services Pte Ltd. The information contained in this article is for general information only and does not constitute the provision of financial advisory services. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any services or products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customized advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Apex Financial Advisor Representative
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1 Agency for Integrated Care. (n.d.). Simple Steps for ACP. Agency for Integrated Care. https://www.aic.sg/care-services/simple-steps-for-acp
2 Andy Sim. (n.d.). Advance Care Planning: How to Talk about End-of-life Issues. HealthxChange. https://www.healthxchange.sg/healthcare-financing/schemes-subsidies/advance-care-planning-end-life-issues
3 Health Hub. (n.d.). Advance Care Planning. Health Hub. https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/medical-and-care-facilities/56/advance-care-planning
4 SingHealth. (2021, January 9). Living Matters – Advance Care Planning. SingHealth.
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