Probably the most important part…
Last month, we addressed the “A” of Advance Care Planning, which is choosing your health care agent, the person who will make medical decisions for you when you cannot make them yourself. Now let’s address the next letter, “C,” which we know stands for “care,” but it also stands for communicating, chatting, and having “the conversation.”
Once you have determined who you would like as your health care proxy or agent, it is essential that you sit down with that person and communicate what is important to you and what kind of care you would wish. Your health care agent must clearly understand that the decisions he or she makes for you must be based on your desires, not the health care agent’s. Your health care agent also must have the gumption to stand up for your wishes, if necessary. If those two traits don’t exist up front, you have the wrong health care agent!
Only when you’ve talked at length with your health care agent and achieved a “meeting of minds” is it time to write down your wishes. Wish 2 in Five Wishes is the living will portion, which gives guidance to your health care agent in various life support treatment scenarios. With Five Wishes, you can choose “yes,” “no” or “it depends,” and your health care agent will act accordingly in your behalf.
Now comes the hard part. After you’ve talked at length with your health care agent, it’s now a great time to extend the conversation to others in the family so they understand who you have designated as your health care agent and what your wishes are. That way everybody’s on the same page, so to speak. And the conversation doesn’t necessarily happen just once; it can be an ongoing dialogue so that your preferences are clear and everyone has been involved.
Next time: The “P” of advance care planning, which is both “publish” and “print.”
M. Jane Markley RN, MEd, FACHE is a consultant with over 30 years of experience in healthcare and is the president of M Jane Markley Consulting, LLC.