Today is an important day; it is National Healthcare Decision Day. National Healthcare Decision Day is a time that many people overlook because it is a tough topic to think about or discuss. And trust me, we get that! But we must take this time every year to either begin making our decisions known or update the ones we have made if necessary in what is called an Advanced Care Plan. We will help you out; below are some questions you can ask yourself to begin the process.
Please think about the following questions:
If I have a tragic accident or illness and can’t speak for myself, who would I want to speak for me about my end-of-life care?
If I contracted the Coronavirus and had to be placed on a ventilator and couldn’t speak for myself, who would speak for me?
Where would I want to die when the time comes, and who do I want to be with me?
What would I like done with my body after I die? (embalmed and buried, natural burial, donated to science, cremated)
Do I want to be an organ donor?
Do I want CPR performed if my heart and lungs stop working?
Would I like to be kept on life support? (ventilator, feeding tube)
Would I want to be kept alive in an unconscious state?
The purpose of asking these questions is to get us thinking about, talking about, making decisions about, and finalizing an advanced care plan (ACP).
My message is simple: Everyone 18 or older should have an Advanced Care Plan where potential healthcare decisions are completed and discussed. Discussed with loved ones, spiritual advisors, and doctors and then put them into writing.
About 80% of people say it’s essential to put their wishes into writing, but only about 25% have done it. Why? We generally don’t like to think and talk about dying, although it’s inevitable.
I recently sat down with my wife to discuss our end-of-life wishes, and we completed the South Carolina Health Care Powers of Attorney. It was an enlightening experience. For example, my wife said she wanted to be cremated. We have been married 45 years, and I never knew that was her desire. We are fortunate that we completed our advanced care plans before it was too late (10 years too early is better than 10 minutes too late). That burden will not fall on someone else, which could result in uncertainty, disagreement, stress, anxiety, and regret.
In 2018 LTC University, who I worked for at the time, received a grant funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation for a South Carolina ACP initiative. The purpose of the grant was to further the reach of advanced care planning in northern Beaufort County and, ultimately, statewide. We have trained facilitators available to discuss and answer any questions you may have in this regard. I will also be available to make presentations to community and church groups after the coronavirus quarantine.
I have three mottos related to advanced care planning: “Just Do It,” Git ‘er Done,” and “Do It Now.”