Your Advance Directive Always Seems Too Early…
Until It’s Too Late!
This is the theme for the 2016 National Healthcare Decisions Day’s (NHDD), and will be the “catch phrase” for all the NHDD activities on and around April 16th. It was developed and suggested by one of our newsletter readers, Kathy Saldana of MidMichigan Health. It is an extremely appropriate statement.
I hear it all the time. I’m too young, not sick enough, not old enough or I hear that people will get to it when they really need it, e.g. not now. And what happens is that their advance directive is not in place when the need arises. If a person can no longer speak for themselves or communicate their wishes, you have missed the window of opportunity. I am always hopeful that they have at least had “the conversation” with loved ones but frequently that is not the case.
Afraid of Death?
Why do we continually deal with this issue like ostriches with our heads in the sand? Most often, it is because we are afraid: afraid of death, afraid that if we put it in writing it will happen, afraid that death will happen too soon and we won’t be ready.
I do appreciate that reluctance. My husband and I went through the drill of updating our legal trust this past year. Like you and advance care planning, I knew it needed to be done as we had put it off far too long and I knew how important it was to complete. But, the process dragged on because it was easier to deal with the activities of the day than to deal with the potentiality of the future. Yet, what a mess it would have been if something had happened to us and we did not have it inked and in place.
Why Hurt Those You Love Most?
It would have been problematic for those people whom we love most: our executor and our heirs. We had to continually remind ourselves that we weren’t doing this for us but for them. That is what needs to be done with advance care planning. Remember the positive impact having a plan in place will have for both you but particularly for those you love who will be left behind.
It’s NEVER Too Early
It is never too early once you have reached majority at 18. Everyone should take the time to speak with their loved ones and share their beliefs, preferences, and values. Everyone should explain what they mean by “heroic measures” or “futile treatments”. Being specific is much more helpful than using platitudes for which there are many definitions.
Don’t Wait…Act Now
Don’t wait for the crisis. Go to the NHDD web page and download their materials so you can help yourself and others.
Contributing author: mjmarkley.com