Giving a Gift that Matters!

December 21, 2017

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us will be hosting or attending family celebrations and exchanging gifts. What could be better than giving your family peace of mind?  An advance care plan is the gift we should all give our families, letting them know what we want, or more importantly what we don’t want, should we become ill, injured, or unable to communicate our wishes.

Advance care planning involves considering the types of decisions a loved one might need to make on your behalf and documenting those wishes in an Advance Healthcare Directive. According to the California Healthcare Foundation, 90 percent of Americans say that talking to loved ones about end-of-life care is important, yet only 27 percent have done so.  Sparing our families from the emotional turmoil of such paramount decisions during an already difficult and stressful situation can relieve our loved ones of a huge burden.

Simply getting the advance care planning conversation underway can be the most difficult part of the process. Taking advantage of external cues such as current events, television shows or movies may be an effective way to get the conversation started.  Talk about what makes your life worth living and what you consider quality of live.  Share your own thoughts or wishes before asking others to express their thoughts.  It’s important to talk about the details and consequences of possible medical interventions and what it means to be placed on life-sustaining treatments.  Most importantly, be prepared to have multiple conversations.  Once the ice is broken, it’s easier to revisit the conversation to further clarify or amend your wishes.

Fortunately, there are many excellent resources available online to help get you started. The step-by-step guide available at www.begintheconversation.org is an excellent place to start. Hospice of the Foothills is also available to come speak to your group or organization about advance care planning. 

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