Advance care planning is too difficult for my family and gives the impression that I am giving up…
Advance Care Planning is a way to help people think about, talk about and document thier wishes for health care in the future. However, many cancer patients feel that talking about the end of their life with close friends and family gives the impression that they are giving up and often this important planning does not take place. In this video Lisa Lamont, a clinical social worker at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, describes what a Personal Directive is and why it is important to talk about and plan for end of life issues with friends and family.
Research demonstrates that people who do advance directives have better outcomes across the board; they live longer, they have better relationships, feel less stress and overall have a better quality of life. So where do I begin with Advance Care Planning?
- Think about your values and wishes – What is important to you? Are there conditions under which you do or do not want a certain treatment? Where would you want to be cared for?
- Learn about your own health – Ask your doctors about your prognosis and what you might expect to expereince in the future as a result of your medical condition.
- Choose someone to make decisions and speak on your behalf – A very important step in the process is to choose and legally appoint someone who can speak for you in the event that you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
- Communicate your wishes and values about health care – The most important part of advance care planning is the conversations that you have over time with your designated agent, loved ones and healthcare team. This may be difficult but it will make an already stressful and uncertain time less difficult.
- Document in a Personal Directive – It is very important to document your plan. It can be very helpful in reducing conflict or distress and bringing comfort to those who are close to you, because it clearly states who your healthcare decision maker is and can provide guidance about your wishes.