An avalanche of grief, combined with mountains of difficult decisions to make and details to attend to, was triggered the moment I received a phone call from my brother saying “Mom’s dead” one sunny May morning in 2006.
My seven year career spent as an estates and trust paralegal helping widows search for information after the death of a loved one, together with the experience of my mother’s sudden death gave me the gift of being prepared and inspired me to create The LastingMatters Organizer, my contribution to others like me...
For many people, it is very hard to start an advance care planning discussion. One of the key problems is finding the “right time” and the “right way” to bring up the topic. All too often, this becomes a perpetual stumbling block because it often feels like the “right time” and the “right way” don’t exist.
A solution to this situation is to “blame” NHDD for the timing and the way to start the conversation. Let NHDD be the scapegoat.
To be sure the IOM identified several flaws in the way that we address end-of-life care in America. Many of these issues are well outside the scope of what National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) can address, but the IOM did strongly urge the on-going and enhanced used of advance care planning as a key strategy to improving end-of-life care.
The countdown is over! National Healthcare Decisions Day has come and gone. Yet, news of advance care planning, the NHDD movement and “having the conversation,” just keeps rolling off the presses! Over the last two months, there has been yet another noticeable increase in press around ACP issues. Media outlets, including The New York Times, TIME, Mobihealth News and HuffPost Healthy Living, have shared everything from announcements about NHDD events to editorials about the value of ACP to articles defining and providing resources to start the process. The growing buzz about ACP over the past two months has not just been limited to our corner of the world; news of the first-ever “Conversations that Count Day” in New Zealand and Canada’s third annual “National Advance Care Planning Day” hit the presses and airwaves repeatedly since we last reported. So, without further adieux, here’s a look at many of the interesting and thought-provoking ACP stories that have been popping up all over the globe over the past two months:
We, as a culture, are scared to death of death. And we know this is a problem.
We know that there are real dangers if we avoid discussions about death. We risk pain and trauma for ourselves and our loved ones if we don’t talk about what we want at the end of our lives. But we also risk losing out on deeply meaningful interactions with the people around us.
We just one month away from NHDD 2014! As the big day draws near, the media coverage around advance care planning (ACP) and advance care directives is increasing daily. Over the past month, we’ve seen a considerable surge in interesting and relevant articles in local and national outlets including national public radio (NPR) and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). These pieces have been raising interesting (and, in some cases controversial) discussions about everything from La Crosse, Wis.—“A Town Where Everybody Talks About Death” –to how advance care planning can cut medical costs and the fact that caregivers and potential caregivers need to plan ahead.
With just two months left until NHDD 2014, conversations about advance care planning (ACP) and end-of-life-care have been heating up all over the country (and the world) over the past month. Since our last roundup, the news cycle’s focus has covered the entire spectrum of issues associated with ACP. It has run the gamut from struggles to have living wills respected—one in Texas and one overseas— and new found support for ACP initiatives to living wills, advance directives and do not resuscitate (DNR) orders as Valentine’s Day gifts.
Once again, we are joining the Engage With Grace thisThanksgiving weekend with a blog rally to encourage everyone to have end-of-life conversations with their loved ones. People are invited to share this post written by the Engage with Grace team (or some version of it that speaks to you) with your friends, family and community. Happy Thanksgiving.
One of our favorite things we ever heard Steve Jobs say is… ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’
We love it for three reasons:
1) It reminds all of us that living with intention is one of the most important things we can do.
2) It reminds all of us that one day will be our last.
3) It’s a great example of how Steve Jobs just made most things (even things about death – even things he was quoting) sound better.
Most of us do pretty well with the living with intention part – but the dying thing? Not so much.
And maybe that doesn’t bother us so much as individuals because heck, we’re not going to die anyway!! That’s one of those things that happens to other people….
Can discussing advance directives with family actually be fulfilling? Brad Stuart M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Sutter Care at Home may be speaking from the heart about the importance of goals of care discussions, but as a leader of the Advanced Illness Management program, there is some pretty incredible research showing the benefits of advance care planning for healthcare truly delivered around the wishes of each individual patient.
Below is a contribution from Randi Siegel,NHDD State Liaison in Pennsylvania.
Nathan Kottkamp recently blogged here about the power of stories to motivate people to do advance care planning. The Descendants, an award-winning film starring George Clooney, is one story that we can all use as a teaching tool.
First of all, just mentioning George Clooney may help get folks’ attention. So, too, may the publicity around this movie (including Golden Globes for best picture, best actor Clooney, and an Oscar for best adapted screenplay).
The film sets up Clooney as a middle-aged husband whose vital, healthy wife has just been seriously injured in a tragic boat racing accident. She now lies in a coma on life support. At her bedside, Clooney’s character, Matt King, pleads with his wife to awaken from her coma. After three weeks of waiting, doctors tell the anguished King that she will never wake again.
Last winter, as I celebrated the holidays with family, I was grateful for something a bit unusual... a family that is familiar with my wishes regarding end-of-life care.
I recently completed the Five Wishes document, which gives us each an opportunity to think about and write down what we want if we are in a position where we face a life-limiting illness or injury and cannot speak for ourselves. The other important factor is to then take it a step further and talk about what we want with our loved ones.
I'm teaching a course about end-of-life care, and insisted that all of the faculty complete the forms before we asked others to do it.
Insiting people satrted with themselves meant I had to finally bite the bullet and think about this myself.