It's never too early to start planning for the future.

It's never too early to start planning for the future.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, the McPherson County Extension Office, 600 W. Woodside St., McPherson, will host an advance healthcare planning workshop. This workshop will help attendees understand the importance of making healthcare decisions in advance, as well as ways to ensure a person's wishes are carried out if they are unable to speak for themselves.

"If you make these decisions before a crisis strikes, you can think them through in a relaxed and calm way, instead of having to decide during a crisis, when thinking can be skewed," said Jana McKinney, county extension agent for family and consumer science.

Advance healthcare planning refers to various ways people can make their healthcare wishes known in advance. It includes designating who will make decisions on their behalf, and specific instructions on which procedures to perform or not perform.

McKinney said while most people consider these things as they get older, it's important for anyone, regardless of age, to think about these issues.

"Life is fragile and can change in an instant," she said. "It's important that everyone do this."

McKinney said one in four Americans don't have any sort of advanced directive, and the number of decisions to be made can be confusing. Thursday's workshop will teach people about the various decisions, as well as how to make them in advance.

"We're encouraging people to be smart and have a plan in place," McKinney said.

Some of these aspects include durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions, privacy authorization, living wills, and pre-hospital "do not resuscitate" forms. McKinney said while everyone should have some advance planning in place, not all these forms are correct for everyone.

"If you look at 'do not resuscitate,' for example, it used to be that everyone was encouraged to have one," she said. "If you have a disease like late-stage cancer, or you're just old and your body is wearing out, that might still be something to consider, but if you're young and healthy, it might not."

The program will be offered free of charge. Call 620-241-1523 to reserve a spot.