Have you ever told your family what you would want if you were suddenly incapacitated or died? Do you have a living will or a medical power of attorney?
Monday is National Healthcare Decisions Day, and time to start the conversation.
National Healthcare Decisions Day exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.
It’s something Katie Doble has addressed. The 36 year old Denver woman is living with stage four cancer. She is stable, and hasn’t needed treatment in more than a year, but she wants her family to be prepared if anything changes.
“Doctors always ask do you have a living will or advanced directive,” Katie said. She knows this is a tough subject, and she began to blog about it so other people could learn. “The idea is to alleviate any heartache or confusion for your family when you do pass away,” she said.
Doctors at The Denver Hospice agree. “Really the conversation should start now,” said Dr. Shirlee Turner, Chief Medical Officer at The Denver Hospice.
She says she’s seen conflict within families too many times, because the patient’s wishes were not clear. She suggests having straight forward conversations with your loved ones like, “What kind of medical treatment I really want to have, and don't want to have, where I want to be buried, or if I want to be buried.”
She says it’s important to designate a medical power of attorney to carry out your wishes if you are incapacitated, and it’s important to set up a living will to outline your wishes for end of life care. There are plenty of resources available to help people get through this process.
- Website for National Healthcare Decision Day, which includes Community Resources: www.nhdd.org
- Katie Doble’s blog series is available at www.thedenverhospice.org/blog. Note that the final post in her five part series has links to lots of resources, including Estate Map, Five Wishes and the Conversation Project, which is the organization behind NHDD.
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