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Understanding Advance Care Planning
From the moment you are born plans are being made for you. From your baptism or name day to birthdays and your first day at school. We look forward to these occasions with excitement and anticipation, as we should.
We plan our holidays, anniversaries, weddings and dinner parties. One thing however that many people still don't plan for is getting sick. This subject is often a difficult one with many cultural & religious issues or even superstition and plain old fear.
Often family are overwhelmed if a loved one becomes critically ill not knowing what the person's wishes are or would be. Many decisions may have to be made, some very quickly and under stressful conditions. Decisions that may have a lasting impact on the patient and family depending on the outcome and individual situation.
It all sounds a bit depressing and mildly terrifying doesn't it? But once you make the decision to sit down with loved ones and have the "talk" then engage in the help of the appropriate health professional to explain all your options and how to make those difficult but informed decisions, completing an Advanced Health Directive will suddenly make as much sense as when you took out that life insurance policy or to protect your income! At least this way you get to have a say in your own care, you'd want to be able to do that, right? Pick comfort and safety and humility for yourself and those you love.
Let's face it as humans we like to have a say in just about everything so why not our own individual care needs? A lot of people think that if they complete a "Living Will" or an "Advanced Care Plan" that they are somehow inviting death into their lives. In life we are born, some of us will get sick, but all of us will eventually die. Its really up to you if you want to decide how and under what circumstances if it comes to it. Think of it as just another insurance policy?
An Advance Health Directive will give you the power to make decisions even if you are not able to speak or communicate. It will be followed to the letter of the law and respected by family and medical professionals. It will ensure you are given the most comfortable and respectful treatment, which will benefit you and your family and friends. Its all in place for your benefit to make the process better for you, in every way possible.
There are often great differences in the types of care you receive as a normal patient to one with a health directive so please give this some serious thought. The people working in this field have been trained especially in the high care situations that arise and are usually flawless at taking care of the patient and family throughout the process of care, from end of life care through to hospice and palliative care where often the patient may improve and the service will not be needed until another time, which does happen.
In my experience they are very special people with very high levels of empathy and they see to all your needs. This is often not something that a mainstream hospital ward can provide, so careful consideration should be given to this subject matter. Make sure you discuss all your needs with your family, including organ and tissue donation so that you may live on through others in the event of your death and be a Hero to the many whose lives you touch. Let your say, be the last say!