Advance Care Planning

Recently, the elderly with chronic illnesses in my family was admitted to the hospital, but our family members were unable to visit him due to the epidemic. Fortunately, the elderly was discharged finally. We realise that we have never talked about kind o

Talking about death is a taboo in the Chinese society. However, as the elderly gets older, he may visit hospitals frequently, family members need to start conversation with the elderly about care in their late stage of life, which is good for both parties.

The "Advance Care Planning" is a comprehensive communication process for the late stage care. This allows an adult who is mentally capable of making decisions on his own to express to his family or/and medical staff the medical and personal care plans for future when he cannot make decision. The patient can assign a "care agent" representing him to execute his plan which may include health care, asset distribution, funeral arrangement, organ donation, farewell to relatives and friends, and so on. The "advance care" emphasises self-determination and communication. The elderly can make amendments as their physical conditions change.

Everyone should know their physical conditions well, and the elderly may also have ideas about advance care planning but they don't know how to communicate with their families. The COVID-19 provides a good opportunity for the elderly and their families to communicate on this matter.

Source: Ms. Leung, Elderly Services Social Worker, Hong Kong Family Welfare Society