Advance Care Planning Isn’t Just For Seniors

By Valerie
November 16, 2016


“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit

This quote reminds me of my mom.

No, she wasn’t a dragon. Not in the literal sense anyway (I am in so much trouble when she reads this!)

She did, however, drill the importance of planning for potential dragon attacks.

My mom is one of those people that loves to plan.  The reason I know this is I was on the couch almost every evening rubbing her feet, watching television while she planned everyone’s lives for every minute of every day of the week.  Even the dog’s life was planned.

So, it would make complete sense that Mom would appreciate and value the importance of advance care planning right?

Ha! Each of you reading this is smiling because you clearly know what I’m about to write next.

That’s right.  My mother has a Gerontologist for a daughter who’s written a workbook on the importance of planning for future care and needs and she’s yet to complete the workbook (I don’t even know if she’s opened the first page!) or engage in discussions on advanced care planning.

She’s not alone.  About 50% of all Canadians have never talked to family and friends about what they’d want if they were ill and couldn’t speak for themselves.

In British Columbia, we have legislation that allows us to choose the type of care we want if we can’t speak for ourselves.  We can appoint someone to be our voice when we can’t.  We can have someone make sure our values and beliefs around our care and death are respected.

Advance care planning isn’t just for seniors.  It’s for all of us. Advance care planning is a process of thinking about and sharing your wishes for future health and personal care.  It can help you tell others what would be important if you were ill and unable to communicate.

And although talking about death isn’t always top of our list or something to bring up at your friend’s party, it’s important to consider that the topic of death is just as much about living as it is dying.

Yes, it may be a little uncomfortable at first.  My experience with families, seniors and even my peers is the first conversation is often the hardest.  For many, it can be a relief to have a place to express and document our preferences.

To have an opportunity to have a say in the kind of care we’d want for ourselves if we couldn’t speak is a gift – to ourselves and to the people who care about us.

If you want to know what advance care planning means, where to go and how to start, visit Speak Up at

Don’t stop reading!  Please help the The BC Centre for Palliative Care by taking their 5-minute survey.

The BC Centre for Palliative Care (BC CPC) wants to learn more about  British Columbians’ level of knowledge, awareness and experience of advance care planning.

This survey is conducted by UBC-affiliated researchers to ask you some questions about advance care planning. It does not matter whether you know anything about advance care planning.

The findings from this survey will be used to help the BC Centre for Palliative Care with advance care planning initiatives that aim to provide British Columbians with the information and tools that will enable them to get the healthcare that is aligned with their personal wishes and preferences.

The survey will take about 5 minutes of your time. No personal identifying information is collected.  You need to be an adult living in BC to participate.

Please note that the survey will be closed on November 30th 2016.

Start the survey now at: You may begin, pause, and then return to the survey at your convenience.
If you have any questions or concerns about this questionnaire, please do not hesitate to contact the survey coordinator, Amber Husband (<>) or the Evaluation Lead, Eman Hassan (<>) or by telephone (604 553 4866).

We encourage you to please pass this survey on to any other adults living in British Columbia.


Wendy Johnstone wrote this article on behalf of Family Caregivers of BC.

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“You are amazing! What I tried to do in 2 months, you did in 1 week. You’ve helped us navigate the system, made sense of Mom’s disease, and gave back her independence and control. Thank you for making such a difference in Mom’s life and giving us, her family, complete peace of mind.”

– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC