Do you know what healthcare treatments you would and would not want if you could not speak for yourself? Do other people know what your wishes are? Would you know what your loved one would want?
In our work with patients at end-of-life, we have learned that this time period can be meaningful and rewarding. Too often, however, it is a frantic time for families who are asked to make decisions that they are uncomfortable making because they do not have this experience. Only 30 percent of Americans have an advance directive, even though they can be created relatively easily, for free, and without a lawyer. Advance directives give you the ability to document the types of healthcare you do and do not want, and to name an "agent" to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself.
Communication and preparation are very importance at the end-of-life. Part of our mission at Arbor Hospice is to educate the community about advance directives and end-of-life issues. Our goal is to help spouses, partners, doctors and patients and parents and children to initiate important conversations and document wishes.
Advance care planning is especially important for those of the "sandwich generation." Those who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children are often forced to make decisions not knowing what their loved ones really wanted, because it was never brought up.
It's never too early to talk to your family, friends and doctor about how you want to be treated if you become seriously ill. National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day dedicated to encouraging people to talk about their end of life wishes celebrated every year on April 16, is approaching. Use this time to think about your own wishes and begin conversations with family and friends. It's the most important gift you can give your loved ones.
This blog post was written by Jaclyn Klein, Arbor Hospice Communications Specialist. You may contact Jaclyn by commenting below or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.