Rotation Prep

Published July 10, 2019

Advance Care Planning & Palliative Care

Guiding Questions

  • What are the components of advance care planning, and why is it important?

  • What is the difference between palliative care and hospice?

  • What are the components and goals of palliative care?

Advance care planning is important in order to honor the wishes and desires of the individual. Less than 50% of the elderly have advance care planning in place. Advance care planning should begin with the identification of a health care proxy.

A health care proxy is a surrogate who is designated to make health care decisions on behalf of an individual. It is important to designate a health care proxy while an individual is able to communicate their wishes. Individuals should be encouraged to talk with their proxy about their wishes for invasive treatment should they become ill. A proxy should have a good understanding of what the individual values so that they can make decisions on the individual’s behalf.

When older adults become severely ill, the goals of cure and prevention may not be realistic. Studies have shown that individuals who have advance care planning in place suffer less distress.

Palliative care is the interdisciplinary specialty focused on improving quality of life for people with serious illness and their families. The goals are to mitigate the physical and psychological pain of the individual and facilitate clear communication between clinicians, patients, and family. Learn about the core components of palliative care here. The following table addresses the difference between palliative care and hospice: