“IT ALWAYS SEEMS TOO EARLY… UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE”
That’s what people say about making arrangements should they become seriously ill. Who will speak on our behalf if we are unable? Will they honor our wishes? These are difficult subjects to talk about.
The process of planning our end-of-life care is known as advance care planning. The documents that formalize your wishes are known as advance directives. Advance directives are sometimes called living wills and healthcare proxies.
Here are some facts about advance care planning:
60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely Important.”
56% have not communicated their end-of-life wishes.*
90% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important.
27% have actually done so.**
80% of people say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care.
7% report having had an end-of-life conversation with their doctor.***
*Source: Centers for Disease Control 2005
**Source: The Conversation Project National Survey 2013
***Source: California Healthcare Foundation 2012
Here’s some more important information from the Pew Charitable Trusts:
People who undertake advance care planning are more likely to have their end-of-life wishes known and respected. Patients and their families are more satisfied with the care received after they have these conversations with doctors. Furthermore, people are less likely to receive unwanted aggressive medical treatments in their last weeks of life; less likely to die in the hospital or intensive care unit; and more likely to enroll in hospice, a comprehensive care program that supports patients and their families in the final phase of terminal illness with a focus on comfort and quality of life.
Some people worry that talking about death can cause patients and families to lose hope and even become sicker. However, research shows that advance care planning does not lead to depression, anxiety, or emotional suffering and has no impact on patient survival.Although these conversations can be very emotional, families and patients generally find them helpful and appreciate the opportunity to prepare for the future.
Let us help you
We are here to help families in our community tend to this important matter. If you have questions or would like assistance in formalizing your advance directives, please call us to schedule an appointment. We would welcome the opportunity to assist your church study group or community organization consider the subject. Please give us a call.
Last Day” from Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White– This is a wonderful read and an even better conversation starter!
CompassionAndSupport.org– This site has all the resources you need to complete your advance directives.
National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization– This link offers downloadable advance directives for every state in the Union.
National Institute of Health– Comprehensive Advance Care Planning information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Comprehensive Advance Care Planning Information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention White Paper– Scholarly information on the importance of advance care planning.
AARP– Good guidance about advance care planning.
The Conversation Project– Founded by Ellen Goodman, The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.
Death Over Dinner– How we want to die represents the most important and costly conversation America isn’t having. Get started with this helpful site.