By Carol Levine, AARP

Part of Navigating Your Later Years For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Planning ahead for your healthcare is one of those topics that tends to get postponed until there is a crisis in your later years, when the planning is no longer “in advance” but “right now.” It’s difficult enough to do without placing all the emphasis on a single momentous conversation. A study by Terri Fried and colleagues at Yale University School of Medicine found that many people go through several stages of change on the path to actually taking action to complete an advance directive and name a healthcare proxy. These stages are precontemplation (“I’ve never thought about it”) to contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance (reviewing plans).

Using this framework, Rebecca Sudore and colleagues at the San Francisco VA and University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics, developed a website called PREPARE for Your Care to guide older adults and their families through these stages.

The tool guides users through the process of choosing a decision maker (a healthcare proxy), deciding what matters most in life, choosing flexibility for your decision maker, telling others about your wishes, asking doctors the right questions, and making a plan.

The type is large and each screen has one idea. Each stage of the process includes videos and stories about how individuals have made different choices. You can stop the process at any stage, save the information, and come back to it at a later date.