The Importance of Advance Care Planning

Neela White, a woman with dark hair in a brightly lit office, pictured on the left in a circle. On the right, text says: If not you, who? Advance Care Planning, April 16, #ifnotyouwho,

In the tapestry of life, we often find ourselves weaving between moments of joy, triumph, and unforeseen challenges. While it’s easy to celebrate the highs, there’s a topic that many of us tend to avoid—conversations about the inevitable lows, the uncertainties that accompany the passage of time.  

Advance care planning, a subject that might initially feel daunting, has become a vital compass in my life, guiding me through the delicate terrain of healthcare decisions and ensuring my values are honoured when I may not be able to express them. 

The journey into the realm of advance care planning began for me when my family faced a health crisis that shook our foundation. Suddenly, the abstract notion of planning for unforeseen medical circumstances became a pressing reality. It was in those moments of uncertainty that I realized the immense importance of having a road map for the future, a guide that would articulate my preferences when I couldn’t articulate them myself. 

Advance care planning is not just about filling out paperwork; it’s a profound act of self-reflection and a gift to our loved ones. It forces us to confront our own mortality, prompting us to ponder questions that are uncomfortable yet undeniably essential. What kind of medical interventions do I want or not want? What values and beliefs should guide my healthcare decisions? Who do I want to make decisions on my behalf if I cannot? 

These questions may seem overwhelming at first, but they offer an opportunity for introspection and a chance to align our medical care with our personal values. I began this process by engaging in open and honest conversations with my family, ensuring that everyone understood my wishes and was equipped to carry them out if necessary. 

One of the key benefits of advance care planning is the peace of mind it provides. It’s a reassurance that, even in the face of the unknown, my voice will be heard, and my values will be respected. This sense of control is empowering, transforming an otherwise intimidating topic into a tool for autonomy and dignity. 

Furthermore, advance care planning is not a one-and-done task; it’s an ongoing dialogue. As life evolves, so do our values and preferences. Revisiting and updating my advance care plan has become a natural part of my journey, allowing me to adapt to changing circumstances and ensuring that my wishes remain a true reflection of my desires. 

By engaging in advance care planning, I’ve witnessed firsthand how it fosters a culture of empathy and compassion within my family. These discussions have strengthened our bonds and opened channels of communication that extend beyond healthcare decisions. It’s a reminder that these conversations are not just about documents; they’re about shared understanding and support. 

In a world that often shies away from discussing end-of-life matters, embracing advance care planning in my mind, is an act of courage. It’s a declaration that our lives are not just defined by the moments of celebration but also by how we navigate the challenges with grace and intentionality.

Neela White, FCSI®, CIWM®, CIM®, CPCA®,EPC™,CEA®  
Senior Portfolio Manager | Insurance Agent | Private Client Group 
Certified Professional Consultant on Aging  
Elder Planning Counselor 
Certified Executor Advisor 

A woman with dark hair sitting in an office chair in a brightly lit office with a house plant in the background.

About Neela 

Neela graduated from the University of Western Ontario and McMaster University with degrees in psychology and gerontology. She also has a certificate in Thanatology. As an active public speaker on the subject of the costs of caregiving, health care, patient navigation and the sandwich generation, Neela often participates in conferences, interviews and educational events.


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