When is the right time to talk about your wishes for end-of-life care? Now…
Research shows that 90 percent of Americans say that talking about their end-of-life care wishes is important, however; the same study shows that only 30 percent of people are actually having these conversations.
Capital Caring Health’s Carolyn Richar, RN, MDiv, CHPN, Chief Mission Officer, and Marcie Fairbanks, LCSW, Director, Family Services, share insights into why advance care planning is important especially during the Covid-19 crisis.
What is Advance Care Planning?
Simply stated, advance care planning is making decisions about your wishes for end-of-life care, and sharing your wishes with family members and loved ones.
Why is it important for individuals – from Millennials to Boomers – talk about their end-of-life wishes?
Advance care planning is not only for older adults. It’s extremely important that people of all ages explore their wishes and discuss their choices with their families.
Especially throughout this Covid-19 pandemic, when anyone at any age could be placed in a situation where important healthcare decisions need to be made in a crisis. If families have not had these conversations in advance before a crisis strikes, then it can be very difficult for decisions to be made that would reflect the patient’s preferences.
What is an Advance Directive?
Advance Directives are documents that allow individuals to express their wishes related to specific medical interventions that they would or would not choose for themselves. It also offers the opportunity to designate a surrogate who can speak on their behalf should they lose the ability to speak for themselves.
Why Is Having an Advance Directive Important?
If there comes a time in your life when you are no longer able to make your own healthcare decisions, then you need to be confident that your family and medical Providers know what your preferences are – and more importantly are willing and able to support your healthcare choices.
This COVID-19 Pandemic illustrates how unpredictable our life journey can be and Advance Directives offer individuals control over their healthcare choices.
What are Four Steps Families Can Take Now?
- Families can start having conversations related to their medical preferences.
- Appoint a healthcare representative – the person who will make decisions for you when you can’t.
- Download and complete out a 5 Wishes Form (a living will). Forms are available here.
- Sign and share the Advance Directive with your family and loved ones. Make copies and give your forms to the decision maker you have appointed, your primary care doctor, and any specialist you are receiving care from.
More about Healthcare Decisions Day
Capital Caring Health is recognizing July as Advance Care Planning Month, and July 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day. Visit our website here for the following resources:
- Let’s Talk: A Conversation Starter Kit
- Ice Breakers – How to start a conversation about end-of-life wishes
- Five Wishes: America’s Most Popular Living Will – Available as a fillable form or hard copies can be mailed to you.
- Advance Directive forms for Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
- Additional Information about Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and POST (Physician Order of Scope of Treatment)