Advance Care Planning is a Gift to our Families

By Dr. Bruce Smith, Executive Medical Director, Palliative Care Services
April 21, 2016

Imagine you’re planning the menu for a party that honors someone who is very important to you. You’d really like to know the likes and dislikes of your guests, but no one is responding to your calls or messages. As the date nears, you start to worry that you might make the wrong decisions. You begin to wish you had hired a party planner. Isn’t Sally’s nephew allergic to cashews?  Does Uncle John hate lemons? Or is it limes? The focus of the party, celebrating the guest of honor, is instead replaced by worry, fear, and anxiety.

While you may feel left to your own devices, you don’t have to be. A party planner would help you navigate the tasks necessary to throw a party worthy of the guest of honor. They would connect you to the right catering company, help you pick the right decorations. They would help you contact the attendees and make sure all allergies are accounted for. They are your support system, to help you through a stressful event in your life.

Advance care planning, or making decisions about the healthcare you’d like to receive if you are unable to speak for yourself, works in a similar regard. When a serious health event or illness occurs, families may struggle with figuring out how to best support the person who needs help. There are incredible demands placed on family and friends as medical professionals often ask for a single person to speak on behalf of the ill or injured person. The spokesperson has a very difficult task if they are not certain of the ill person’s priorities, preferences, and wishes for care.  Making potentially serious medical decisions for someone else without clear guidance from them is emotionally exhausting. It can also strain relationships among other family members who believe their own version of the “right” answer should have priority.

Clearly documenting your personal preferences and discussing them with someone you trust allows you to guide your own medical treatment. Advance care planning empowers the people that matter most in your life to make decisions on your behalf with confidence that they are doing what you would want. Not only that, but we have our own kind of planners. You will not be left to your own devices, unsure of the next step or who you should reach out to. Our case management team is here with you every step of the way to help connect you with the right people and services so you’re net left feeling worry, fear, or anxiety and instead can focus on what matters; celebrating life and sharing it with those who matter most to you.

You can reach our case management intake line at 1-866-543-5765 (toll free)