Make your healthcare decisions known
It’s a dreary, drizzly Monday morning. . . in a week that ends with Tax Day (Friday, April 15). But, the Red Sox open at Fenway today! So see, the week isn’t one of total despair. Whatever the situation, we usually can see another side to it if we allow ourselves to be open to the view. And that’s just the approach to take to National Healthcare Decisions Day (April 16) and week, which is happening right now.
It’s an ominous sounding day – National Healthcare Decisions (NHDD) but that doesn’t mean it has to be gloomy. Quite the contrary – NHDD is an opportunity for all of us to be proactive and empowered – to state what our healthcare wishes are – and to choose who we want to speak on our behalf, if we’re unable to speak for ourselves. It’s actually all about having a voice in what happens on our behalf.
If you don’t already have a healthcare proxy, choose one now. But, don’t do so in haste. Think about it – who can represent your wishes and desires as well as you? Who can advocate for you if you’re unable to do so yourself? Who will follow what you want, and not let their own philosophies interfere? That’s the person(s) you want as your healthcare proxy.
Speak openly and honestly to that person(s) when asking if they will be your proxy. Tell them what your wishes are and as difficult as it may be, outline possible scenarios that may require employing those decisions. Gage their comfort level with this and their conviction to follow through on your behalf.
There is a wonderful tool to help with such difficult conversations called “Go Wish“. Using a special deck of cards that has various concerns, wishes, decisions printed on each, each person separates 36 cards into three piles: one for important, one for somewhat important, and one for not important. Then, they narrow their most important cards down to ten. One’s most important pile may include “to have my family with me”, “not being connected to machines”, “to be able to talk about what scares me”. Another may not consider those as important as “to take care of unfinished business with family and friends” or “to be free from pain”, and “not being short of breath”.
This tool is a great ice-breaker to open the door to more specific discussions. While some may think it morbid, or even superstitious to talk about “what if”, the question one has to ask themselves is “what if I don’t have this discussion? What if I don’t choose someone to speak for me?”
Another wonderful resource for making healthcare decisions is Honoring Choices. This is a terrific website to help lead one through choosing a healthcare proxy (Who’s your agent?) and offers a host of resources to start the conversation.
Don’t procrastinate on this decision. It’s far too important.