Many people think that they do not need to make decisions about their future care unless they reach a time when they have a serious illness. This might be advanced cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), motor neurone disease (MND) or early dementia.
However, planning ahead is important, whether you have a serious illness or not. This is because none of us can say for sure whether we will always be able to make our own decisions about our care. For example, you may suddenly become very ill. This may mean you are unable to make decisions about your healthcare or finances.
It is also important because it is not always possible for health or social care professionals to know exactly how you would like to be cared for in certain situations. For example, if you became unwell and were unable to talk to them.
Remember that you are the expert on you. Only you know how and where you would like to be cared for. Even your closest family and friends may not know exactly how and where you would wish to be cared for, if you have not told them in advance. This might mean you are not cared for in the place or way you would have chosen.
For example, if you had an illness that could not be cured and your condition suddenly got worse, you may want to be cared for at home. If your family or health or social care team did not know this, and you are too ill to tell them, you may be admitted to hospital and be offered treatments that you may not want to have.
Knowing your wishes can make it easier for your family to make decisions on your behalf at what can be a distressing time. If you plan your care in advance, there is more chance that your care will be right for you. Planning ahead can also help you to feel more in control of your life. You will still be able to alter your plans if you change your mind later on.