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The holidays are a great time to celebrate and catch up with family. This year may look different than past years but conversations with loved ones remains a constant. We often talk about politics, weather, past achievements, future goals, and the state of our health. It is rare, however, that we speak about what we would want if a health care crisis were to occur. Having these conversations is important and the best time to do it is before an emergency.
Planning in advance of a health care emergency is called advance care planning. Advance care planning can be a gift to your loved ones. Talking about your health care wishes and values allows those who are most important to you to hear directly what you would want if you were unable to speak for yourself. Sharing how you define quality of life, what you prefer for medical treatments and the type of care that is important to you can relieve a great burden to your family if they ever need to make decisions for you during an emergency. During these conversations you would want to talk about how you feel regarding medical treatments such as resuscitation (CPR) and using a ventilator if you needed help breathing. It is also key for you to touch on the type of care that is important to you such what kind of music you like to listen to and what temperature you like the room to be to feel comfortable. All these details are valuable to share because without them your loved ones could unintentionally make decisions that you would not agree to if you were able to speak for yourself.
Often, the hardest part of having a conversation about advance care planning is knowing how to start it. There are many great resources to help with this including Voice Your Choice. Voice Your Choice is a community-based program that offers free tools, webinars, and materials to help facilitate advance care planning discussions. You can also sign up for training on how to complete your own advance care plan online at no cost or upload an existing advance care plan so it is easily accessible in an emergency.
So, this year when you catch up with your loved ones, give them the gift of peace-of-mind by sharing your health care wishes with them.
Visit VoiceYourChoice.org for more information about advance care planning and to get started on your own plan today.