April 01, 2013

Advance Directives: Eight Advance Care Planning Lessons

Charles P. Sabatino

From the time I began work as a young lawyer in a senior citizens law project in 1979 through more than 25 years at the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, one ever-present challenge in the field of aging has been how to ensure that the care individuals receive at the end of life is the care they want and expect. Advance care planning is a key tool for reaching that goal. (I use the term “advance care planning” because that’s the core process in which advance directives are merely one tool.) A lot has changed over the years, and research, law, policy, and practice experience have nudged me toward a perspective I’d like to share in the form of eight advance care planning lessons. This list may be of interest to you both personally, as you consider your plans for the future, and professionally, as you reflect on the role that lawyers play in the planning for others. And, if I’ve learned anything in my career, it’s that the only constant is change. These lessons will continue to evolve with changing medical science, health systems, and social mores.

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