If you ask most Americans if talking to their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, not surprisingly 90% will say yes. What is surprising is how few people actually have the conversation. Why? Because it’s a tough conversation to start.
So let’s talk. The fact is Advance Care Planning is for everyone, not just those with life limiting illness. Whether you are young or old, in good health or ill, advance care planning is just good healthcare. It answers the central question of who will speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. It helps define the values that are most important to you and what medical treatments you would want. Without a plan your family and healthcare team may not know your wishes.
Our experience at Compass tells us one of the biggest obstacles to planning is not knowing how to begin the conversation. Many patients worry it will be upsetting to their family if they talk about end of life decisions. The truth is, it is far more stressful for family members if they don’t know your wishes. Planning is the one way all of us can make sure our voice is heard if we are no longer able to speak for ourselves.
Dr. Kalisiak, Compass Oncology’s Medical Director explains it this way, “At the end of the day, the most basic rule of human caring is simply talking to people. We need to understand our patients’ goals if we are to improve their care and honor their wishes. How are they living with cancer? What do they need to live better? If the cancer cannot be cured, what do they want their final days to look like?”
At Compass our social workers routinely work with patients on advance care planning. There are also many wonderful resources to help you start the conversation. Here are a couple of our favorites:
The Conversation Project
National Healthcare Decisions Day