It's About The Conversation
Honoring Choices Napa Valley
inspires and supports community-based conversations regarding
advance care planning.
When Is The Right Time To Begin Planning For Your Future Health Care?
We'd like to think our loved ones will always be healthy, independent and able to make decisions for themselves, but things can change suddenly. They might have an accident or a serious illness and no longer be able to speak for themselves. When that happens, doctors often turn to their loved ones to speak for them. If that happens, will you know what care they would want?
Talking with loved ones now and helping them plan for future medical needs is the best way to make sure that their wishes will be respected.
A Doctor's View
"I wish I'd died when I was supposed to." After uttering those words, my patient, Katherine, sat slumped in her chair in my medical office. Katherine had raised three beloved children, had enjoyed puttering in her flower garden, and had told one of her children that when her time came, she'd like to die naturally. However, she never formally documented her wishes. Sadly, she suffered a catastrophic stroke, and the paramedics put a breathing tube down her throat to protect her airway. When the family gathered, there was disagreement about how to care for her, so she was left on life support machines. Eventually, Katherine got well enough to go to a nursing home, where she remained dependent on others for basic care like toileting and eating. "I don't get to live with my family. I don't get to do what I love. I feel like I'm just existing, not really living." she lamented. "I want to die now but my body won't. I just wish I could have died when I was supposed to."
A good read
The Washington Post, A doctor discovers an important question patients should be asked
EXCERPT: Then I remember a visiting palliative-care physician’s words about caring for the fragile elderly: “We forget to ask patients what they want from their care. What are their goals?”
I pause, then look this frail, dignified man in the eye.
“What are your goals for your care?” I ask. “How can I help you?”