An interview with Altru Hospital's Clinical Palliative Care Nurse Specialist Nancy Joyner.
Q: What was it like when you first completed your advance directive?
A: It wasn't hard for me, since I do this with others frequently, in my profession. It was harder having my children and family members complete one.
Q: Tell me about the particular incident or life occurrence that drove you to complete your advance directive.
A: I've had much more interest in health care directives after my own health issues, from being hit by lightning (actually) , surgeries and other very life awareness events. I am a "do not attempt resuscitation' patient ("DNAR") and had to wear an armband during hospitalization last year. I am in my late fifties which peaked a lot of discussion from staff, friends and family members.
Q: Have you ever helped another person complete an advance directive? How was that experience different from completing your own?
A: Yes, I have helped many people complete one as well as a POLST form. My comfort level has increased immensely with the experience. I often refer people to the booklets like "Hard Choices for Loving People" and "Making Decisions about CPR" to aid with these difficult decisions.
Q: What would you tell others that are considering completing their advance directive but are intimidated?
A: Consider how doing so is a gift to your family, removing the burden of them having to make decisions for you, about you, on your behalf, if you were not able to do so.
Q: Do you think the National Healthcare Decisions Day initiative is important? Why or why not?
A: Absolutely! I used to encourage people to do them on their birthdays, with their loved ones, when they are not in distress, yet seeing the future as they are 'chronologically advancing' (AKA, aging).
Q:Think of the five people closest to you in the world. Have they completed advance directives? If not, what will you do (or have you done) to express the importance of completing these forms to them?
A: Yes, even in those in their 20s, because they know how important it is to consider the future and help others know their wishes and preferences. Although Healthcare Directives are not the perfect tool, it leads the conversation during time of completion, as well as for future, potential events.