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Thursday, November 10, 2011 - Talk Turkey About Advance Care Planning This Holiday
Talk Turkey About Advance Care Planning This Holiday
End-of-life medical care conversations important before a health crisis occurs
 
Pass the potatoes, heap up the dressing, and talk some turkey about medical care directives this Thanksgiving while the family is gathered around the table.
 
If the holiday table proves inconvenient, how about kicking around a little advance care planning during a football game halftime? A little planning now for the young and healthy can save loved ones stress and let your wishes be known should the need arise for a medical care directive.
 
“Research studies reveal that we Americans know what medical care we want and what care we don’t want at the end of our lives,” said Jane Dinnen, RN, Advance Care Planning coordinator at Munson Medical Center. “The research also shows that we do want to talk about it, but we don’t know how to get that conversation rolling. That’s where we can help area families make that conversation easier.”
 
One idea this holiday is a “Thanksgiving Swag Bag” that includes a copy of the Five Wishes document, how to pick a good health care agent, some questions to ask each other, and more. Munson’s Advance Care Planning can provide these resources.
 
For healthy adults, completing an advance directive is a pretty easy job, Dinnen said. Most healthy adults will not have to use their advance directive. But it is important to have one nonetheless. Experience shows most healthy adults only need to plan for an unexpected injury or neurological event.
 
“What decisions would you want your health care agent to make if you were in a serious car accident or otherwise lost the ability to know who you are, where you are, and who is with you?” Dinnen said.
 
The process for healthy adults involves two decisions:
• Who to choose for a health care agent
• What that agent needs to know about the kind of care you do want or don’t want should a devastating neurological accident occur.
 
Adults living with a chronic, life-limiting illness that has compromised quality of life should revisit their advance directive to review past decisions. They should include any changes learned from living with their illness. This is when the level of conversation becomes much more nuanced and more important. The Advance Care Planning department can help residents this stage as well.
 
“The most important thing is to start the process,” Dinnen said. “And then the peace of mind of knowing that you can honor your loved ones’ wishes and they can honor yours becomes just one more blessing to count this holiday season.”
 
For more information, contact Advance Care Planning at (231) 935-6176 or advancecareplanning@mhc.net.