Background: Aging populations with greater rates of cognitive decline demand increased attention to the issues of end of life decision making and advance care planning (ACP). Legislatures have passed statutes that recognise the necessity for both substitute decision making and the declaration in advance of wishes relating to health care.
Objective: This article discusses ACP and the role of the general practitioner.
Discussion: Advance care planning provides patients, relatives and doctors with greater confidence about the future. There is good evidence that patients desire to discuss end of life care, and GPs are in a good position to engage their patients in considering the issues. They have a responsibility to confirm the decision making capacity of patients who write advance health directive documents, to inform and educate their patients about future health care, and to keep the ACP conversation going.