Happy National Healthcare Decisions Day!!!
Wait… you didn’t know it was today?? And you don’t even know what that means??
Well then let me explain because this is really important and this is an area of health care I’m very passionate about!
The goal of National Healthcare Decisions Day is to educate and empower all individuals and doctors to complete their advance care planning.
So what is advance care planning?
Advance Care Planning means planning in advance for medical decisions just in case you are so sick that someone else has to make the decisions for you. These are your decisions to make based on your values, preferences, and conversations with loved ones.
Advance care planning is really important for the following reasons:
- We are all mortal but prior to our time on this earth ending, we have incredible feelings, goals, and preferences on how we want our final time to play out. Some people would be happy never being able to taste food or walk again as long as they are alive. Other people would rather die than be stuck in a home in front of a TV with tubes for eating and going to the bathroom. Since you are an individual human you have your own desires and we need to make sure your family and doctors are aware of these.
- The default of our medical society, unfortunately, is NOT to proactively have these conversations with you and your loved ones (although this is slowly changing). And then when the time comes when there is an urgent issue and no medical professional is aware of your wishes, they provide really aggressive medical care. Think surgeries and rib-breaking chest compressions and electrical shocks and tubes down throats. Now sometimes that saves a life but sometimes it actually can hurt an individual who is elderly or can be quite a shock and disappointment for those who want to die peacefully at home at the end of their life.
This Frontline episode “Being Mortal” will give you an inside look into the health care system and will really help you understand the importance of advance care planning.
So what should you do? Follow the checklist below that’s taken directly from My Health Care Transformation Handbook (available for purchase soon!) You might be the individual who needs to complete these steps or you might need to support your parents and grandparents in completing these steps. Either way, we can’t predict the future so we want to be sure that the family is as prepared as possible for whatever may come our way.
Advance Care Planning Medical Checklist:
- Self-reflect on My Goals of Care
- Discuss My Goals of Care with my family and friends
- Discuss My Goals of Care with my Primary Care Provider (PCP)
- Discuss My Goals of Care with the rest of my Care Team
- Complete my Non-Temporary Advance Directive
- Complete my Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Form
- Have my doctor scan copies of my documentation into my medical record
To learn more about Advance Care Planning, the Navigating the U.S. Health Care System 101 course has two lessons on this topic! And like I mentioned, My Health Care Transformation Handbook will be coming soon with an entire chapter to support you and your loved ones with advance care planning so stay tuned for more info!
In the meantime, check out this comprehensive list of more resources on advance care planning.
I hope today you take this opportunity to have open honest conversations with your family and other loved ones about your goals, wishes, and preferences in the face of an unforeseen event.
Cheers to your every health and happiness.