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The Importance of Advance Health Care Planning

November 12, 2013

We encourage advance planning for funeral arrangements, and it is also important that you have addressed advance care planning from a health care perspective.

For most people, advance care planning is a difficult topic to discuss, whether it is about yourself or a loved one. But as difficult as the planning may be, it makes the difficult events much easier.  Knowing the goals and wishes of those we love takes away any doubt or questions once the moment is upon us.  There is a lot of comfort in knowing that the decisions that have to be made are ultimately their own.

Most people think that advance care planning comes when a person is nearing the end of their life, diagnosed with a terminal illness, or for those that have a laundry list of illnesses with no avail in sight. But the truth of the matter is that all of us, no matter how young or how healthy, should be aware of our wishes and goals of care. Though it may seem like a cryptic conversation to have around the dinner table, there are ways of approaching the topic without making it morbid. The organization, Engage with Grace, the One Slide Project, approaches Advance Care Planning in just 5 questions. Their goal is “to help ensure that all of us—and the people we care for—can end our lives in the same purposeful way we lived them.”  The one slide is:

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While answering these questions, it’s important to note the kind of care you want and the kind of care you do not want. And while the answers may be hard, they are even harder questions for your loved ones to answer on your behalf, when you are unable to speak for yourself.

Talking about these topics and thinking about your answers is advance care planning. Once your have a clear picture of what your specific wishes are, the next step is putting them into written directives, know as advance directives.  The first step in creating advance directives is choosing a health care proxy. This should be someone with whom you trust to make decisions and speak on your behalf. This person should be someone who knows your ultimate wishes, goals, and values so that the decisions they make for you ultimately reflect what you would have decided for yourself.

These conversations are important to have, and while it never seems like an opportune moment, the more comfortable you are at understanding your wishes, the better you can ensure they happen. Asking yourself these five questions and knowing the answers for your loved ones is a good start. For more information relating to Engage with Grace, please check out their website.

It is also important to think about advance funeral planning, another way to make a very difficult time for your family a bit easier. Death is a difficult fact of life to understand in a moment’s notice, but here at Keohane, we strive to make this tough time as painless as possible. Please feel free to reach out to Joe Reardon, one of our funeral directors, who specializes in working with families interested in advance planning. He and the rest of our team are always available for questions or assistance. To get started, you can contact us directly or fill out our form.

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