So many of us plan for college, marriage, retirement, vacations….you name it and we plan for it. Until it comes to end of life care. Far too many of us don’t plan for that.
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) is promoting National Healthcare Decisions Day, which aims to inspire, educate and empower the people about the importance of advance care planning. Believe it or not, a 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll revealed that only 29% of people over 65 have discussed end of life care wishes with their physician and more than 40% have not documented their wishes.
According to a recent story in the Yale Daily News:
A new Yale-led study indicates that older adults frequently do not clearly communicate their end-of-life preferences to “surrogates,” loved ones selected to make health care decisions on their behalf…..
“Appointment of a health care proxy alone does not [ensure] that the proxy is prepared for surrogate decision making,” the paper stated. “These findings reinforce recommendations that [advance care planning] is not complete without communication between patients and their surrogates.”
Nevertheless, even in pairs that reported such communication, 70 percent of surrogates did not know patients’ preferences, according to the research.
Some may think advance care planning is something one should do when you get sick, but that may be the worst time. Having these conversations, “before the crisis” is not only much easier, it is much more valuable. Conversations before the crisis can help a family cope with inevitable loss; preparing for death helps those who live on most of all, and minimizes guilt. Talk is the single most important thing that family and friends can do to prepare for the end of life of someone they love.
There are many tools, including free resources and forms, you can use to walk through the process and make your wishes known; access them through Thoughtful Life Conversations (TLC) website. Once you’ve had the conversation, be sure to document it, and to share a copy with your family, your medical power of attorney and your healthcare providers.
TLC put together a short video on the importance of making sure your end of life wishes are known. You can watch it by clicking here or on the picture below.
If you still believe it’s too early or just not the right time to have a thoughtful life conversation about end of life care – remember…..it’s always too early until it’s too late. AzHHA wants to encourage you to use National Healthcare Decisions Day to have that conversation. It’s another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!