Plan today for a better tomorrow
If something were to unexpectedly happen to you and you were unable to communicate, who would be in charge of making your health care decisions?
The California Health Foundation found in a recent survey that 60 percent of respondents said it was extremely important their family was not burdened in making tough decisions about their care; however 56 percent of respondents had not discussed their wishes.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than one out of four older Americans face the questions about medical treatment near the end of life, but are not capable of answering.
Amy Scheu, administrator of Advocate Hospice and co-leader of Advocate System Palliative Care/Advance Care, believes it is never too early to make a plan now that may save your family from making a tough decision later.
“For most patients, comfort is an important issue,” Scheu said. “Most people want to die at home, yet most decisions happen at the hospital bedside when other overwhelming emotions are surrounding them.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “A plan relieves family members from wondering if they ‘did the right thing’ on your behalf. A plan also provides your health care team with information on your health care preferences and if you would want life-sustaining measures if there appeared to be little likelihood of your recovery.”
“The first step is to start a conversation with your family members. It can be uncomfortable, and no one wants to bring it up, but at the same time, most people are relieved when it is brought up,” Scheu said.
Scheu recommends Caring Connections as a helpful resource when it comes to planning advance directives. The website offers a number of easy to use planning tools.
“By creating these plans ahead of time, you can take the time to discuss them with your loved ones to ensure they know what your wishes are if the inevitable happens. There is no better time than now,” she said.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.