It Begins with the Conversation …
Advance care planning involves communicating about anticipated medical choices throughout the adult lifespan (including Elderhood), focused on the individual’s goals and values. Have you had this conversation yet? If not, you are not alone. Studies show that less than 50% of those who are severely or terminally ill have an advance directive in their medical record. Even when advance directives are in place, they help with end-of-life decisions less than half the time, probably because they are too general to provide advocates the clear instructions they need.
Why is this conversation so important? When someone cannot speak for herself in a crisis, person-directed care can be applied to its greatest potential. Knowing how to support and help update an Elder’s choices is a skill set the whole care partner team needs to possess.
The conversation, and use of the documents (e.g. advance directives, living will, DNR, Five Wishes), grows out of relationships. The availability of this knowledge strengthens a sense of identity, autonomy, security, meaning, and joy for all care partners. INTERACT III Advance Care Planning Tools, the last webinar in a 4-part Eden Alternative series, recently focused on how these tools help care partners facilitate and track advance care planning conversations.
Several webinar participants agreed that the whole care partner team needs to take responsibility for and be involved in advance care planning conversations. This makes sense, when you consider how discussions about end-of-life care come up as easily during mealtime as they can during a doctor’s appointment.
In their experience, 39% of webinar participants said that more than 75% of the Elders they serve have completed an advance care plan, and 28% said that only ¼ to ½ have done so. Clearly, there is a lot of growth occurring in the area of advance care planning, which has a big impact on the potential for hospitalization when a change in condition arises.
What is good about living for you? What are your life goals? Gather your care partner team (family, friends, physician, etc.), share your answers with them and begin the conversation that will lead to your own personal advance care plan. It is not too early to start!