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COVID-19 spurs critical conversations about advance care planning

advance care planning conversation
The global coronavirus pandemic has spurred many of us to finally consider touchy healthcare decisions. Right now, many families are talking about important topics surrounding the end of life – but taking actions on these conversations is critical.

JourneyCare encourages everyone in our community to complete advance care planning, which lets you decide what kind of medical care you would like if you become unable to speak for yourself.

“In the times of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we have really come to terms with the fragility of all our loved ones,” JourneyCare Medical Director Dr. Bozena Theodoropoulos says. “Advance care planning and written advance directives are like having insurance – no one intends on using their auto or life insurance. But we have them for that just-in-case.”

Theodoropolous led an advance care planning online seminar this spring for JourneyCare, where she explained that this planning ultimately should result in an advance directive: a written form that documents your advance care wishes.

“According to a survey by The Conversation Project, 90 percent of people says it is important to put wishes in writing, but only 27 percent have actually created their advance directives. We must bridge that gap,” she says.

So how do you start this conversation with your loved ones? One of the best ways to begin is by completing your own advance directive and sharing it with them. There are many easy, streamlined versions, such as the Five Wishes form– which is recognized as a legal document in Illinois. To obtain a complimentary electronic copy of Five Wishes from JourneyCare, click here.

Show and Share Your Wishes

Completing your own Five Wishes form and then showing it to your family can make bringing up the topic easier and may help avoid any possible defensive reactions from your loved ones. Share your wishes before you ask them to share theirs.

Here are some topics you can discuss while showing them your advance directive:

  • Explain that an advance directive documents how you want to be treated if you are seriously ill and unable to speak for yourself. The Five Wishes form speaks to your holistic needs: medical, personal, emotional and spiritual.
  • Share what brings meaning and joy to your life.
  • Talk about any personal experiences you’ve had with the death of a loved one or family member and how it affected you.
  • Discuss any medical situations that scare you.
  • Explain that people at any age should have an advance directive.
  • Ask your loved ones what brings joy to them today.
  • Offer to help them complete their own Five Wishes forms.

Dr. Theodoropoulos says it’s also important to remind your family that advanced directives give them control over their healthcare.

“A common misconception is that they are used to get less care or take away aggressive lifesaving options,” she says. “Advance directives let you decide exactly the amount of care you wish to receive.”

For help getting started on your Advance Directive, visit the JourneyCare website today.