Advance Care Planning
~ By Fran Myers ~
Fifty percent of us will face a medical situation when we cannot speak for ourselves. If you are in the hospital and cannot express your wishes, the most important person is your Medical Durable Power of Attorney (Healthcare Agent). Whether this agent is your spouse, friend, family member or a professional healthcare advocate, your chosen agent will speak for you. Have a conversation. They need to know what you would want them to say!
Most important to your care are your unique values. Consider these questions as talking points with your healthcare agent: Which is more important to you, quality of life or quantity of life? Is your goal to live to the ripe old age of 100 like your Aunt Millie? Do you prefer to live your life until you are no longer able to do the things you truly love to do? And, what are those things?
Do you think you would be willing live with serious physical limitations requiring an electric wheelchair, or being bedridden?
Receiving treatments such as dialysis or cancer therapies can require a great deal of effort, discomfort and stress. Transportation to appointments can add to exhaustion. How might these considerations affect your choices?
Would you rather be in some pain and able to think more clearly, or be out of pain but unable to concentrate or carry on a conversation?
A great resource for you is theconversationproject.org. This website will help guide you to have Òthe conversationÓ at home when you can think clearly, not in a hospital waiting room during an emergency.
These conversations can make the difference between a healthcare outcome that is one you would choose, and one that you would never have chosen.
The real story is that you have the right to make these decisions at the hospital through your agent if you are unable to communicate. Choosing a Healthcare Agent is the best way to have your wishes expressed and followed. Through advance care planning you can be in charge even if you need someone else to do the talking.
Fran Myers is Executive Director of Advance Care Advocate and the Manager of Faith Initiatives for The Conversation Project in Boulder. Advance Care Advocate is focused on providing advance care planning and healthcare agents who can advocate for you. For more information, call or email Fran Myers. Fran@AdvanceCareAdvocate.org