Have the Conversation Before the Crisis
What if, today, on the way home, you have a serious car accident or medical event that affects your ability to communicate in a meaningful way? You are transported to the hospital, but do not know who you are, where you are, and what is being done to treat you.
- Will anyone know who to call as an emergency contact?
- Will your loved ones know what medical treatments you would or would not want done? Would they agree on treatment options?
- Have you named a patient advocate you trust who you want to be your voice?
- Have you discussed your end-of-life preferences with family?
- Do you have your care wishes in writing and is the document is easily accessible?
April is National Healthcare Decisions Month ─ a time dedicated to spreading awareness of advance care planning. If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above questions, now is the time to start a conversation with your loved ones. It is best to complete an advance directive form when you are well as you may not be able to do so when a health crisis storms in.
Understanding Advance Care Planning and Advance Directives
Advance care planning is a process of personal reflection and communication. It is a time for you to evaluate your values and wishes, and to let people know what kind of health and personal care you want in the future if you are ever unable to speak for yourself. It means having discussions with family and friends, especially your patient advocate – the person who will speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. It may also include writing down your wishes, and talking with your current healthcare providers.
An advance directive is a legal document that states who you want to make medical decisions on your behalf and what your end-of-life wishes are if you are unable to make decisions on your own. It is also sometimes called a Healthcare DPOA (Durable Power of Attorney). The document is free to complete. You may never need to use the plan – but if you do, there is peace of mind knowing that it’s there for you and your loved ones.
Benefits of Advance Care Planning
It can be difficult to start this conversation with your loved ones. However, you, your family and your healthcare providers will be happy you took steps to plan for your care in case of a crisis. There are many benefits to being prepared including:
- It helps to ensure you receive the care that best aligns with your values
- It addresses your personal vision of quality-of-life wishes for end-of-life care
- It improves patient and family satisfaction
- Families whose loved ones have an end of care plan feel less anxious because they aren’t trying to guess what their loved one wants
- It gives healthcare providers and hospitals clear treatment direction, resulting in a reduction of unwanted care
Who will speak for you? Give your family the precious gift of knowing your choices.
Take action and start your advance care planning today. Learn more here or call (269) 341-8778.