Advance Care Planning – The most important gift you can give your loved ones

This post was written by Gary Adkins, president, Parkview Noble Hospital.

This past November, I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by the leaders of the Parkview Centers for Healthy Living and our My Well-Being counselors on the topic of Advance Care Planning (ACP). It’s a subject I’ve thought about occasionally and have had some conversations about in passing with my wife, Annette. However, the more I listened, the more I realized that, though I knew in general terms what I wanted to happen and not happen at the end of my life, and what Annette wants, we’ve never had a discussion where we laid out the specifics of our wishes. And we certainly hadn’t spoken about it with our children, the ones who are most likely to bear the gut-wrenching responsibility for speaking on our behalves and ensuring our wishes are carried out.

Advance care planning isn’t about defining how you prefer to die, but about making choices on how you wish to live your life and, specifically, how you want to live the end of your life. Most importantly, it is sharing these choices with your loved ones while you are still able to do so. The process can be a daunting one filled with questions. Fortunately, Annette and I had terrific support through one of Parkview’s ACP counselors. She provided us with a road map, but the decisions were entirely ours.

Among the questions we talked about were:

  • What short or long term health goals do I have?
  • What significant health problems am I afraid may affect me?
  • Who would I want to make health care decisions for me if I am unable to make them?
  • How can I talk about these issues with my family?
  • Do I need to talk with my physician?
  • When is an advance directive used?
  • Can I change my advance directive?
  • What if I’m injured or get sick when I’m away from home?
  • What happens in an emergency?
  • What measures would I want if I become unexpectedly incapable of making my own decisions? If it is clear I may have little or no recovery? If my injury or loss of function is significant?

All of our kids were with us at Christmas this year and we used the opportunity to open conversations with them, sharing in detail the decisions we had made. As hard as it was to have these discussions with our family, there is a great sense of ease in knowing that everyone is aware of what we want and how we want to live through the ends of our lives. I believe our kids feel as relieved as we do, since they had – and will continue to have – the opportunity to ask us hard questions and do so comfortably while we are all healthy. I would encourage everyone to go through this process.

Learn more

Take some time to watch this helpful conversation, led by Paula Garrett, LSW, Advance care planning facilitator. This dialogue gives viewers an idea of the process and the questions you should start thinking about regarding your healthcare.

For more on advance care planning, contact Chris Brinneman, ACP Manager, at chris.brinneman@parkview.com, (260) 266-1471. You can find several advance directive documents on our website to start the dialogue.

 

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