• Readers: To submit a health-related question for a medical doctor, email it to Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org. See this space each week for answers.
Q: I feel great. Why did my doctor ask me if I had an Advanced Care Plan?
A: An Advanced Care Plan is a document that lets you select who you want to speak for you if you are too ill or incapacitated to speak for yourself. It also lets you specify what kind of care you want to receive based on your diagnosis and prognosis, as well as final instructions such as funeral desires. The form is then signed and witnessed or notarized and is a legal document. It is best to make these decisions when you are healthy, not in a crisis. When you have the foresight to recognize that sometimes bad things can happen without warning, it can make a difficult situation a bit less scary and traumatic for loved ones. Most of all, it means if something happens to you, your loved ones don't have the stress of trying to guess what you might want to be done.
— Dr. Bob Goldmann, Palliative Care Services, member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society