Thursday, April 9, 2020

Start the Conversation: April 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day

As our community rises to meet the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, people are likely spending more time than ever communicating with their families, whether they’re sheltering in place together or calling loved ones regularly to check in. This unprecedented time and focus on health care provide opportunities to make connections and start conversations – including a discussion about your health care plans should you become unable to make your own decisions.

Hope Healthcare has been the local resource in facilitating the advance planning discussion in our community by providing resources and education events. On April 16, Hope recognizes National Healthcare Decisions Day: a nationwide initiative that encourages adults of all ages to consider the care they may want or may not want, discuss it with family members, document the plan in writing, and choose a health care surrogate.

Sadly, the consequences of delaying the discussion and not communicating your thoughts, concerns, and desires can affect loved ones in unintended ways. Heartbroken families can fall apart, wracked with confusion and guilt. Sometimes, the emotional intensity of this situation can overtake a lifetime of great memories.

Creating a plan gives loved ones a map to follow, confident in knowing your intentions. At Hope, we recommend reviewing Five Wishes – an easy-to-use guide that provides direction and guidance to discuss your personal, emotional and spiritual preferences. The form legally documents desires for future medical care and provides information for family and physicians, such as: Who should make care decisions on your behalf if you’re unable? What kind of medical treatment options are acceptable or desired?

It is also an opportunity to share other important details. Do you want to be surrounded by family and friends, or do you want only your closest loved ones nearby? Which are your favorite hymns and flowers? Do you want friends to honor your passing by contributing to your favorite charity in your name?

As a community service, Hope Healthcare is offering complimentary copies of Five Wishes, which is considered a legal document in Florida as well as 41 other states. To request a complimentary copy by mail, call Hope at 239-482-4673 or visit www.fivewishes.org/redeem and enter promo code APRIL2020. There, you can either print a Five Wishes document to complete by hand - or enter your information on-screen and print a completed document to sign. You can return to your Five Wishes online to edit and reprint it for a full year.

Let someone you trust know you’ve completed Five Wishes and where it will be kept, and consider sharing it with your clergy, doctor, attorney, and other trusted advisors and care providers.

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