Barbara Herrington joined me for this episode of Sage Aging to discuss advance care planning. More specifically Five Wishes. Click the player above to listen. You’ll also find the show notes and links we mentioned on the show by clicking the three dots at the bottom right of the player. Find a complete library of episodes here.
Advance Care Planning
Wishes for end-of-life care or advance care planning is our topic du jour. Advance care planning is a process by which people explore and discuss their goals and thoughts about their end of life. For many, it’s something they’ve decided to just deal with later. You know, when they “have more time.” But is end-of-life care really something to be left for later?
As a caregiver, it’s especially important to start the conversation for yourself and for your loved one now. Taking the time to discuss and reflect on end-of-life wishes empowers families to understand and advocate for each other’s desires regarding end-of-life care. But how do you start such an uncomfortable conversation? I’ll let you in on a little secret. Approached in the right way, conversations about end-of-life don’t have to be scary at all.
There Are Tools For That!
Having the right tools at your disposal helps with any job, right? This is no different. Tools make the process simpler and generally lead to better outcomes. Here are some tools Barbara and I discussed. They are not the only ones out there, but we love the family conversations these tools create!
Five Wishes is an easy-to-use advance care planning document that helps you decide and communicate your final wishes and how you’d like to be cared for in the event you can’t make decisions for yourself. The five wishes covered by this document are:
The person I want to make decisions for me if I can’t
The kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want
How comfortable I want to be
How I want people to treat me
What I want my loved ones to know
The first time I saw this document I thought it was odd that wishes three and four were included. After all, don’t we all want people to treat us nicely? And don’t we all want to be as comfortable as possible? Of course, we do! But that looks different to every person. This document allows you to get down to the nitty-gritty and let your loved ones and care providers know exactly what you want. Do you want music played? Aromatherapy or lotion? Do you have a red line when it comes to treatments and therapies or do you want every measure taken?
GoWish is a wonderful and fun sorting card game to help people easily start a comfortable end-of-life conversation. I think GoWish cards are brilliant because they allow the conversation to happen in both verbal and non-verbal ways. It’s a great companion to Five Wishes. The Primary Objectives of GoWish Cards are:
To facilitate the End-Of-Life “conversation”
To guide your “conversation” while introducing new concepts that help anticipate future challenges and choices
To guide you in identifying wishes, values, and preferences and to ensure that those wishes are met
Bonus!: The Conversation Project
Also a great companion to Five Wishes, The Conversation Project is a public engagement initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) that helps people talk about their wishes for care through the end of life, so those wishes can be understood and respected. This website has a variety of free guides to help families start tough conversations about a host of topics.
These tools take away any excuse for not discussing end-of-life. Check them out for yourself, and PLEASE share them with family and friends.
Liz Craven, along with her husband Wes, owns Pro-Ad Media, publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, serving the local community for over 29 years. Liz lives in Lakeland and is very active in the local community, specifically in the area of aging. Liz serves on a number of local boards and committees including the Lakeland Vision and Age Friendly Lakeland.