National Healthcare Decisions Day: Taking the Time to Plan #PlanNowOptumCare

National Healthcare Decisions Day: Taking the Time to Plan

One of my close friends just lost his father to The Big C, cancer.  It all happened very quickly, which may have been a blessing in some ways as there wasn’t a lot of suffering.  The whole thing was a wake-up call for me in a few of different areas of life:

–          First, to cherish every moment with my own parents (and not let disagreements about trivial things come between us).

–          Second, to do all I can to try to prevent cancer (regular doctor visits, self-checkups in the shower and eating lots of greens).  This will help prevent or detect some forms of cancer, so it doesn’t hurt to at least do what we can.

–          Third, to have the difficult but extremely important conversation with my own parents and spouse about end-of-life care preferences.

April 16th is actually National Healthcare Decisions Day, which I hope will lead many others to have similar conversations around advance planning for health care wishes.  An interesting statistic based on a national survey is that 90% of people think it’s important to talk about their loved ones’ and their own wishes for end-of-life care, but fewer than 30% of people have actually had the conversation.  I fell into that majority until my recent conversations with my parents.  I am very glad to have taken that step now instead of at a more stressful time, when many are forced to have the conversation or take actions having not discussed things with their loved ones.

Dr. Gregory Kimura wrote some very helpful tips on how to best tackle this important conversation.  The tips range from guiding you through introspective steps to determine what is most important to you, to the practical action items on how to document your decisions and sharing them with a doctor.   Dr. Kimura is an expert on the topic as he is a physician and palliative care director at Monarch in Southern California.  I have enclosed these helpful steps at the bottom of this post so you yourself can view it in its entirety.  It includes links to two websites where you can find additional information on the topic: www.optumcare.com and theconversationproject.org.  The sites are great, with other regular people like you and me sharing their stories on the matter, and even helpful start kits.

Please join with me to take the important steps to #PlanNowOptumCare and get the word out for your family and friends to do the same.

 

National Healthcare Decisions Day: Taking the Time to Plan 

Tips on How to Begin Necessary Conversations with Loved Ones about Their Care Wishes

Dr. Gregory Kimura, Physician and Director of Palliative Care, Monarch Health

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day – A day set aside to encourage all of us to discuss important advance planning health care wishes.  It’s an opportunity to begin the process of documenting those wishes as part of routine care before a stressful health crisis arises.

 It can be tough to get started.  It may even feel a bit awkward, but powerful conversations with family members today can ensure end-of-life care preferences are honored and reduce stress and uncertainty in the future.  Planning today means that you can take comfort tomorrow in knowing that your loved ones will receive the treatments they want, and avoid the care that they don’t want at the end of life.

According to a national survey, more than 90% of the people think it’s important to talk about their loved ones’ and their own wishes for end-of-life care, but fewer than 30% of people have actually had the conversation.   Many people simply haven’t gotten around to taking the necessary steps to crystallize what they want and to formalize it.  Sometimes it’s because people don’t know how to start the conversation with their loved ones.

A great way to start is by thinking about what is most important to you if you or your loved ones were facing a life threatening or progressive illness and then you can move on to thoughtful and open conversations with those you love.   Sometimes those conversations can be the toughest, so here are some simple steps to get the conversation started:

  • Think about what is most important to you.What are your greatest fears, hopes and goals? Who would you prefer to make decisions on your behalf with your physicians if you could not? How sure are you of your choices? Do you want your chosen proxy to have leeway to change your decisions? Now you are ready to discuss these topics with your loved ones to reach a shared understanding of your desires.
  • Talk with your loved ones. Honest communication can help families avoid the stress of guessing what a family member would have wanted. Be open with each other and focus on really understanding the views of those you love. You may find that you and your loved ones may see some things differently. That’s okay. Talk through it, listen and keep an open mind.
  • Make it official.Once you’ve had the conversation, formalize your decisions by putting them in writing. There are several ways. An advance directive can help describe your medical wishes when you no longer can. Special medical orders can be developed with your doctor. Finally, a health care proxy identifies your health care agent—the person you trust to act on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions or communicate your wishes.
  • Get help.You can find valuable resources to help you think through these issues and make decisions more manageable at www.optumcare.com and theconversationproject.org.

This is a process and it does take some time, but it is well worth it.  I have seen firsthand the sense of peace, calm and satisfaction families experience knowing their loved ones wishes are granted, and with these details taken care of you will have more precious and memorable time to spend with your loving family members.

Disclosure : This is a sponsored post #PlanNowOptumCare

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32 Comments

  • Reply lisa Apr 14, 2016 at 11:48 am

    This is a great post. It is so important to have these discussions with loved ones. It’s a hard thing to talk about but vital. Having a national day may make it a little easier to talk about things.

  • Reply 1heart1family Apr 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    This is not a topic that everyone likes to talk about, but it is very important. What you think your parents would want is not necessarily what they want. I saw this wiht my grandfather!

  • Reply Emily Apr 14, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I didn’t know there was a national day for the discussion but it’s definitely important. My dad is 70 and took out life insurance a few years ago, so when he told us his about his plan that naturally prompted us into discussions about his choices on certain topics. I was thankful that he was so open to talking about it with us. I know many people feel like having the discussion is suggesting that you think they will get sick soon when in reality you just never know what can happen so it’s better to discuss it well before you think bad health is coming.

  • Reply Miles Basilio Apr 14, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    I’m thinking the same thing as I visited a funeral. It’s a fact of life that we need to face.

  • Reply Run For Life (@uprun4life) Apr 14, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    I have life insurance on myself. I didn’t want to possibly leave my husband and kids high n dry. I feel better knowing that I got a life policy before I started having chronic pain.

    Don’t get me started on health insurance and dental. It’s crazy expensive too.

  • Reply Terri Ramsey Beavers Apr 15, 2016 at 6:09 am

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. My parents are getting up in age and I’m not a spring chicken myself. I think we all need to plan ahead for the inevitable.

  • Reply jamie Apr 15, 2016 at 7:49 am

    My boyfriend and I just had this convo last week. While its a hard one to have, it’s an important one.

  • Reply lauren Apr 15, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Because my parents are getting older is why we moved closer to my parents. We we want to make sure we are here nearby when they need us as they get older. That is important to us and for my kids, however that is a hard conversation to have.

  • Reply momknowsbest15 Apr 15, 2016 at 9:48 am

    My parents are not prepared. My father in law is thank goodness.

  • Reply BluKatDesign Apr 15, 2016 at 10:17 am

    It is a tough conversation but you’ve got to do it someday!

  • Reply Ann Bacciaglia Apr 15, 2016 at 10:47 am

    It is so important to have these conversations with your loved ones. It is easier to talk about it and have things planned.

  • Reply Kathy Apr 15, 2016 at 11:09 am

    I think this is a wonderful post. I think everyone should have this talk with their family. I’ve lost a few people to Cancer. It’s definitely something you should know about.

  • Reply Claudia Krusch Apr 15, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    It is a tough conversation but you need to have it someday! Thank you for sharing it!

  • Reply Elizabeth O. Apr 15, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    That’s a tough topic to talk about with the family as people tend to be emotional when it comes to these things. But, it’s also important to talk about it and it’s nice to know that we have a national healthcare decisions day to help raise awareness as well!

  • Reply Nicole Herose Cochingco Escat Apr 15, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    It is really to have talk about that. Good you shared that. Thanks!

  • Reply abccreativelearning Apr 16, 2016 at 8:59 am

    We lost our father in law and several family members in the last few years to the Big C as well 🙁 This is something that definitely needs to be talked about and plan for these decisions.

  • Reply Tatanisha Pitts-Worthey Apr 16, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    This is indeed an important issue that we all need to look into and to carefully weigh the importance of advance care planning. Me and my husband should start talking about this soon.

  • Reply aimlessmoments (@AimlessMoments) Apr 16, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    This is an important conversation to have, so many go without talking about this stuff and then its too late.

  • Reply Ana De Jesus Apr 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Sorry to hear about your friends dad, cancer is scary thing to deal with so it is always ideal to have a good health plan in check.

  • Reply Claudia Krusch Apr 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    It’s a very important conversation, you should have and better sooner, than later!

  • Reply Amy Jones Apr 17, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    This is difficult topic, But it is indeed something that we need to have, we need to discuss it in my house, thank you for sharing this.

  • Reply Ana Fernandez Apr 17, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    It is a difficult conversation that every family must have.. It will e so helpful. hnks for raising awareness about this

  • Reply Agnes Dela Cruz Apr 17, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Health related topics needs wide information dissemination. It will make us aware of everything we need to be as healthy as possible. Awareness is the key.

  • Reply Lisa Rios Apr 18, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Such an important topic that you need to spend some time & talk to your loved ones as it is so important to raise awareness on the same. I am glad we have a special day for National Healthcare Decisions to raise awareness thus making it easy when you talk with them.

  • Reply Becca Wilson Apr 18, 2016 at 4:29 am

    This can be such a hard topic but it needs to be discussed. Healthcare is seriously one of the most important things you should worry about.

  • Reply Molly ~ EasycookingwithMolly Apr 18, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Healthcare is such an important issue and it’s almost absolutely necessary to be covered by one.

  • Reply victoria Apr 18, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Me and my hubby was had a conversation about this last day. and because this is so important

  • Reply Shannon P Apr 18, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Healthcare is such a tricky issue, and I’m glad this is helping loves ones have some peace!

  • Reply hautebeautyguide Apr 18, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    Such a difficult conversation to have with loved one, but also so very important. Cheers to you for doing it.

  • Reply mskathykenny Apr 19, 2016 at 9:05 am

    The big C is really scary. I have always told my family that should I have it, I will not get medication. Instead, I will live my life to the fullest and save what I can for my son.

  • Reply Garf Apr 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I don’t like discussing these kinds of things but I think it is a must, especially if your loved one has big C. It is also a must to get prepared, emotionally.

  • Reply Eva McMahon May 12, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    We lost both of our parents 3 days apart each other this past year.It is still a mess.

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