A critical perspective on advance care planning for older people

How older people plan ahead for ageing in relation to accommodation, care arrangements, healthcare and medical treatment, and end of life decisions has attracted particular attention in recent years and as a result there has been considerable promotion of the importance of planning ahead and executing planning instruments with the aim of making one’s wishes and preferences known in advance. Planning ahead is promoted as allowing older people to have their voices heard, to advance their autonomy, choice and self-determination and to allow them to decide what treatment they may not want to receive. This article provides a critique of advance care planning, based on a subset of findings from a qualitative intergenerational study on ageing in Australia. The findings suggest that advance care planning is a much more complex and at times problematic endeavour, compared to what is promoted about advance care planning, in particular with regard to the use of planning instruments.

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