We lost our Pop 2 years ago. He had been sick for a long time, slowly becoming more and more ill. We forced ourselves to have what we thought would be a difficult conversation about what kind of care he wanted. It was hard to bring up the conversation, yes, but it was a real relief to know his wishes. It had me thinking about what my husband and I want to plan for our healthcare- we both have medical issues, and we needed to know what we wanted for healthcare decisions. The conversation wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as we thought, and I’m partnering with OptumCare to show you some reasons and tips on how to start the conversation with those you love.
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 careagent—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
On the OptumCare sit, it also gives direction specific information on how to #PlanYourOptumCare, including helpful way to form a Health Care Directive. making a Health Care Directive in advance directive will help:
- Protect your right to make your own health care decisions.
- Make it clear how you would like specific care, such as life-sustaining treatment, to happen (or not happen).
- Make a record of your care preferences. This allows you to feel confident that your wishes and goals will be followed.
Advance directives usually also name someone as a medical power of attorney, or health care proxy. The person you name can make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. There are several guidelines for medical power of attorney. These guidelines may be different in each state.
I know that I will rest easier having had the conversation with my husband about what we’d want for care. I think that during trying times, sometimes you can’t think straight and having a document that you can show to doctors to help them understand the care that you’d want would be invaluable. Not sure how to start that conversation? The Conversation Project is a GREAT place to start! They help you with comfortable ways to start and have the discussion about HealthCare Decisions.
I know it seems like its a morbid thing to talk about. It’s not, really, it’s a caring decision that you’re having so that you will be able to follow the wishes of your loved ones.