Parkview Health Logo

But I thought advance care planning was for older people …

Last Modified: May 23, 2024

Family Medicine, Healthy Mind


This post was written by Michael Kinsey, MAOL, specialist, Advance Care Planning, Parkview Health.

So, you’ve reached a milestone and turned 18. Congratulations, you’re an adult! Perhaps you are headed into the workforce, off to college or into trade school. Maybe you’re still noodling on the next chapter. No matter the road ahead, there is an important step you should take first–completing an advance directive. This ensures your preferences for future medical care are known in the event of an accident or illness resulting in a healthcare crisis.

Why? Simply put, advance care planning is your voice when you can’t speak for yourself. Who has access to your private healthcare information, your spirituality, belief system, worldview and family dynamics can all be captured in these documents. As an adult, it’s critically important to outline the things that are intimately important to you.

Healthcare decisions and access

When you were a minor, you were considered to be under your parents’ care. They had access to your medical records to help make decisions related to your healthcare as you grew. While, according to the Indiana Health Care Hierarchy, once you’re 18, if you are not married, your parent(s) can still make decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself, they would not have access to your medical records to help guide those decisions.

Declaring one or more Health Care Representatives not only provides the peace of knowing someone you trust is making decisions for you if you are not able, but it also grants automatic proxy access to your private healthcare information for your Health Care Representatives.

Belief system

Your spirituality might also play a large role in your preferences for future medical care. Some worldviews and faiths require certain declarations for healthcare, while others may not. As an example, Jehovah’s Witness faith group requires a declaration of preferences for blood transfusions and blood products. It’s a good idea to check with your faith leader if you are unsure about your spirituality and how it may influence your care.

Even if your faith does not require anything specifically related to your healthcare, it’s important for your Health Care Representatives to understand your belief system and how they can best support you in the unfortunate event of a health crisis.

Family dynamics

Oftentimes, family dynamics influence your choices when declaring your Health Care Agents. We live in a world of varied family situations. Traditional, divided and blended families all present different considerations when choosing your Health Care Agents. You may prefer to have one parent over another or even a stepparent be your Health Care Agent. Maybe your preference is not a parent at all, but rather a sibling, aunt or uncle, cousin or friend. Declaring your Health Care Agents ensures that the people you trust most are making decisions for you if you are not able.

These four qualities are important to consider when contemplating who you choose as your Health Care Agent:

  • They are willing to accept the role of Health Care Representative.
  • They will have long and detailed conversations with you regarding your values, goals and preferences for healthcare.
  • They are willing to follow your decisions, even when they may not agree.
  • They are good at making decisions during difficult times.

Remember, Advance Care Planning is important for any adult, regardless of age. Proxy access, spirituality and family dynamics can all influence who you choose as your Health Care Representatives. Your individual situation may present other considerations as well.

We’re here to help!

The Advance Care Planning team at Parkview Health is ready to help you navigate this process. We can facilitate a conversation with you and your potential Health Care Representatives that will help you to make the declarations best reflecting your goals, values and preferences for healthcare in the event of a crisis.

To schedule a no-cost advance care planning appointment, simply email or follow the prompts for Advance Care Planning in your MyChart.




Related Blog Posts

View all posts