Health Care Decisions Now Can Help Your Family Later
When loved ones make health care decisions in advance, 90 percent of them receive what they outlined, according to a recent study.
The problem is, many people still avoid talking about their choices and only about a third complete the paperwork.
April 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day, a day founded to nudge us to make a plan about how we’d like our health care handled when we can no longer speak for ourselves.
As our friends in health, hospice and palliative care know all too well, having difficult conversations sooner rather than later helps families and providers navigate these tough choices when they come up.
NHDD was founded in 2008 by a Virginia lawyer who witnessed too many agonizing situations where “families, providers, and hospital administrators struggle(d) to interpret the wishes of patients who never made their healthcare wishes known.”
Hospice veteran Barbara Karnes explains that without these wishes determined, the “medical profession will do everything it can to keep the heart beating and the body breathing, under any circumstances. Even if the body can’t.”
Several organizations including the Conversation Project and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) have resources to help you or family members record your/their wishes, some of which take less than ten minutes.
According to the NHPCO, there are three steps to take to get started:
Learn about advance care planning, Advance Directives and appointing a Healthcare Agent
Choose a health care agent/proxy to make decisions for you
The Conversation Project has tools to help.
Complete the Advance Care Directive form for your state
You can find forms here.
As the Death Deck’s co-creator Lisa Pahl explains, conversations are just as important than filling out forms, “Confidence is the best gift you can give someone that may be making health care decisions for you. Confidence comes from conversations, not just the paperwork.”
If you’d also like to inspire confidence in your loved ones about your end-of-life choices, we can help. Solace created a tool to make an end-of-life plan in less than five minutes. Similar to making medical decisions in advance, a few simple choices now will make things easier later for those who will make your arrangements.
Whatever your choices are, a few conversations and written instructions can help relieve the stress on family members who want to honor your wishes. A small investment of time can go a long way in helping loved ones navigate the end, which is hopefully a very, very long time from now.
Photo Juliane Lieberman