Advance Care Planning

There is no easy way to plan for future healthcare choices. It’s a process that involves thinking and talking about complex and sensitive issues.

You make choices on a daily basis - choices about where you want to live, who you want to marry, your career, your home, your life. Perhaps one of the most important choices facing you is in your choice for future medical care. Who decides when enough is enough? You do, or least you should. You should decide about the kind of care you want while you are capable of making your own decisions.

Technology today has advanced to a point where patients with little or no hope of recovery can be kept alive indefinitely. That has made it more important than ever for people to express how they feel and discuss what kind of care they would want if they would become unable to make their own decisions.

Think about the kind of treatment you would want, and talk about it with your loved ones and your healthcare provider. Talking about these issues may not be easy; there may be resistance, even denial. Many people are uncomfortable talking about living at the end of life. Yet putting loved ones in the position of have to make decisions for you can be most difficult. Discussing your choices now can help. Talk about the kind of care you want and then put it in writing. Making your choices known is a gift to your loved ones. Research shows that loved ones usually go for more treatment, not less, when they don’t know the person’s choices.

Notice, it says talk first, then put it in writing. Often individuals prepare advanced directives (the legal form of making your wishes known and appointing a healthcare agent), but once the form is done, they forget about it. They fail to update it and they don't tell their family members about it. When the time comes that others must make health care decisions for you, you want them to know what you have decided in advance.

Grace's pastors and Kim Ramos, Parish Nurse, can help people work through the process of making complex healthcare decisions.  Please contact them if you need assistance.