“If I complete an Advance Care Plan, will I die sooner?”
Don’t laugh, this was a question I was asked earlier this year at a community presentation, and the person asking was very serious and concerned. Superstition is alive and well in the world, and when it comes to dying, no one wants to tempt fate. This “don’t jinx it” attitude is also one of the reasons why people do not complete a financial power of attorney. They are afraid that if they do, it will be needed immediately and since they’re doing fine now, why rock the boat?
Superstition is defined as “a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing.” How true it is. Death has such ominous significance for most of us but the key point is that it is a belief not based on reason or knowledge. In some cultures, this feeling is particularly intense and strongly-held. My hope is that I can help people over this hump to the point of realization that their fear is unrealistic so that they can move forward and complete their advance care plan and give the gift of peace of mind to themselves and those they love.
Not just for the elderly
Death, serious illness, and injuries do not happen only to the elderly, but also to young people and even children. It occurs when it does, unaffected by whether a plan is in place or not. And that is extremely important because if your plan is not in place, then you have lost control because no one will know your desires. You will not have had the conversations that are so necessary in allowing people to treat you as you wish to be treated. You will leave a huge burden on your friends and loved ones as they try to guess the best direction for your care and wonder if they are doing what is right for you.
So don’t let superstition drive your direction. Talk to your loved ones, tell them what is important to you, and share your feelings and beliefs so that you can help them along the way to helping everyone do the right thing. If you can do it on your own, go forth and get it done. If you can’t, ask for some help (I think Five Wishes is a great helper!). The most important thing is that you have the conversation and document your desires in your advance directive for everyone to see and use.
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.