Being prepared for a ‘difficult journey’

Girl helping older man with computer

The following “Letter to the Editor” is from CHPC President & CEO, Shauna Anderson, and was submitted to The Post-Journal and the Observer.

I’d like to share with you my personal experience with my parents care and the importance of sharing instructions for their end-of-life care.

I took care of my parents to varying degrees for 16 years and knew them well. Like a good hospice nurse, I made sure they discussed their healthcare wishes and put their advance directives in place to guide our decisions in the event they could no longer express them.

Every day went along like the one before until one day-abruptly-it didn’t. When difficult healthcare decisions needed to be made and my siblings, cousins, and parent’s friends suddenly came into the picture, the path we had chosen became very muddy. There were many different opinions for what could be done. Having those conversations and the documents to guide us were a gift for a very difficult and emotional time. I am still extremely grateful my parents had advanced directives to help us understand what they wanted. I do not have to second-guess those decisions.

So why don’t people talk about what they want and complete their advanced directives? There are many reasons. It is a difficult conversation to just strike up one day with those you love. Or it is too painful to think about what will eventually happen to all of us. Or we are expected to keep fighting and not give into illness because our loved ones need us. Or our religion frowns upon our setting any parameters on what we will do to stay alive. There are so many reasons not to complete these simple forms and the list go on and on.

Advance directives are a gift you give your family. They are like a road map for a difficult journey to a place you’ve never been. Please give your family the gift of conversations and documents that will make their lives easier. Tell them you love them and tell them what you want for care at the end of your life.

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day set aside specifically to recognize the importance of documenting and sharing your wishes for healthcare in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. In this year of the COVID global pandemic, more people have completed advanced directive than ever before. Let’s keep this trend going!

There are many resources available online to guide you through the process. Your healthcare provider can also assist you with the discussions and documents. The resources page of the website has downloadable forms and links to information. If you have questions, please feel free to call our office and we will connect you to someone who can help.

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