It might be time to have this important conversation
Of all the conversations you’ll have with your family over the course of your life, talking about your future health care wishes may not be at the top of your list.
You might not want to bring it up. They might not want to, either.
But when a health crisis arises, it can be even more difficult for your loved ones if you haven’t talked about what you want. National Healthcare Decisions Day was April 16, an event that exists to inspire, educate and empower people on the importance of advance care planning. It encourages people to bring the topic up and have that meaningful talk now, before it becomes more difficult.
Advocate Aurora Health Chief Nursing Officer Mary Beth Kingston, PhD, RN, FAAN, took part in a conversation with an Advocate Aurora certified chaplain facilitator. She said her experience to think about and plan her wishes tapped into something deeper.
“Having the conversation was very emotional for me,’’ she said. “Certainly, as a nurse I’ve had experience with death, reflection on death and death in my family. Thinking about what my definition would be of a good death made me reflect on when my parents died. They were two very different experiences.”
She said the questions asked during the process might make some uncomfortable, but that helped her focus on what’s most important.
“It’s such a reflective experience and that was really valuable and helped me see things more clearly,” she added. “Taking the time to reflect on what’s important to you, what’s happening in your life and sharing that with your family is so meaningful.”
Not every conversation with family or others you trust will be the same. Different topics are appropriate for people at different stages in their lives. But you should consider what you might want to happen if you got into a moment of medical crisis and couldn’t speak for yourself.
For example, who would I trust to represent my wishes to the medical team if I couldn’t? What would my goals be if I became critically ill with little hope of recovery? Or even with a decent hope of recovery?
Kingston also added that as a nurse, going through the advance care planning process can bring a valuable perspective and a better understanding of patients and their wishes. It can also help forge deeper connections among patients and providers.
Learn more on how to make a plan.
About the Author
Andy Johnson, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He’s been with Advocate Aurora since 2000 serving in various internal and external communication roles. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for the Journal Times and Burlington Standard Press. He enjoys kayaking, biking, and camping but most of all, spending time with his family.