Don’t have an advance medical directive dictating what kind of medical treatment you want should you not be able to speak for yourself, especially at end-of-life? Fix that this Saturday, April 16, the 10th annual Healthcare Decisions Day.
It’s a day to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning – that is, expressing what is important to you. You need to answer some tough questions:
Want to be kept alive as long as possible, regardless of the quality of that life? If you can’t feed yourself or swallow, do you want to be fed via a tube? Do you want to be revived if your heart stops beating? Do you want your breathing to be assisted by a ventilator? Do you want to be kept pain-free? (There are lots of folks who would say yes to that last question without being at end-of-life.)
There are a number of tools available to help you talk to your loved ones about these difficult questions. Have this conversation around the kitchen table, not during a visit to the Emergency Room or the Intensive Care Unit. You can do this!
The Conversation Project: The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. They offer great conversation starter kits. Have a National Healthcare Decisions Day Death Over Dinner discussion!
Aging With Dignity: Get a copy of The Five Wishes form, America’s most popular living will. It’s written in everyday language and helps start and structure important conversations about care in times of serious illness.
Compassion & Choices: The organization’s Good-to-Go Resource Guide and Good-to-Go Toolkit are excellent conversation starting points. They provide ideas, inspiration and information on thorough, effective end-of-life preparation.
Death Cafe: At a Death Cafe people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. Their aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives. Find a local event through their website.