We plan for most things in our lives, where we will live, where we will go to school, if we will have children, how we will raise them and the list goes on. But we don’t plan for what we would like our medical care to be at the end of life. Death is not a comfortable topic of discussion but one that is necessary and important not only for you but for your family and loved ones. National Healthcare Decision Day is recognized each year to bring awareness to the public on the importance of having an Advance Medical Care Directive. Taking the time to complete this document assures you that your wishes, regarding your medical care, will be honored by the medical community and your family or loved ones when you are unable to communicate this information yourself. This is one gift we should all consider providing to our families and loved ones so they will have peace of mind to know that your wishes are being honored.
Having these conversations can be difficult and often times are neglected or put on the “to do list” but it keeps getting moved to the bottom of the list sound familiar? How do I talk about this without upsetting everyone is the familiar question. There are many ways to begin the conversation perhaps, from a recent illness your family or a friend just had or you can state that your doctor or medical team needs to have this information as part of your medical chart. These can open the door for you to express your wishes and lift the burden from your family or loved ones. The Conversation Project website is also another great resource you can access to help you take this first step.
Understanding an Advance Medical Directive can be confusing. Here at Virginia Cancer Specialist, we have a team of professionals that can help you understand and answer many of your questions. Ask your Doctor or Nurse Practitioner for a consult with our Palliative Care Doctors or Oncology Social Worker who can help clarify and assist you as you make these important decisions.
Take the first step on April 20th and engage in National Healthcare Decision Day to complete your Advance Medical Directive, just click and fill out the form. Give this gift to yourself and to your family and loved ones.
Saundra Weller, LCSW, OSW-C, VCS, Virginia Cancer Specialists