Wendy Johnstone, Keystone Eldercare Solutions
All of us know the expression, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Perhaps we’ve even used it when we want to motivate someone (maybe ourselves). With determination, achieving anything is possible.
It struck me that the same expression could be used for advanced planning.
In other words: No written will, no way anyone knows how you want your legacy known. No advanced care planning, no way anyone can ensure your health care decisions are known and acted upon if you aren’t able to communicate.
According to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, “Advance care planning is a process of reflection and communication, a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know your future health and personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care.”
It’s about talking to the people in your life about what kind of healthcare decisions you’d like to make if you can’t use your own voice to do so. A 2012 Ipsos Reid study showed that over 85 per cent of Canadians hadn’t heard of advanced care planning and 50 per cent of us haven’t broached the topic with family and friends.
Our family was among these statistics.
Back in 2006, my Dad had a massive stroke followed by a grand mal seizure rendering him unconscious. After three days of no improvement and showing no signs of change, our family had to make the painful decision of taking him off life support. Although we presumed to know what his wishes were, there wasn’t 100 per cent certainty that Dad would have voiced to be taken off life support. I think as a family we made the right decision, although all of us would have felt more at peace if Dad had assigned a Substitute Decision Maker (someone to make medical and treatment decisions on behalf of another person when they can’t communicate their own wishes).
The Comox Valley Advanced Care Planning is offering a free Introduction to Advanced Care Planning on: Tuesday January 19, 2016 – Comox United Church, 250 Beach Drive, Comox 2:00 – 4:00 pm & at North Island College – Elder College February 2016 (Register through NIC – See page 10 ‘Short Courses’). For more information, go tohttp://www.advancecareplanningcv.ca.