It's time to add healthcare to your planning to-do list
Today’s busy lifestyle revolves around planning—we organize our workday and weekend activities…schedule doctors’ appointments and make lists for grocery shopping and other errands…arrange savings plans for college or retirement. Whether it’s for tomorrow or years in advance, planning is a proven pathway toward achieving our goals.
Yet there’s one important area of our lives that we often neglect when planning for the future: Our healthcare! Have you thought about your own care preferences in advance of any change in your health and shared them?
While we may not like thinking about our own aging or admit that we are mortal, almost everyone wants a say in how they are cared for. But in the case of a bad accident, serious medical diagnosis, or other unanticipated health- or life-threatening situation, you don’t want someone else guessing what you would have wanted.
Take Control of What Matters Most
To get started on a path to planning and taking control, Capital Caring Health (CCH) and The Conversation Project (TCP) have ideas and resources to help you and your family
begin. Such preparation—known as Advance Care Planning (ACP)—is often thought of as end-of-life care, but it’s really much more than that. Thinking about how you want to be cared for and sharing your values and preferences applies to any health issues that might arise…now through one’s last days.
Interestingly, research that shows those aged 28 and younger are highly interested in ACP and “get it.” For them, resources and guides are tools for living—and they’d really like their parents and grandparents to get onboard, too.
To help you get started, experts at The Conversation Project (TCP) have developed easy-to-use guides that offer tips, practical advice, and examples. And no matter what you decide, you can always change your mind any time you want!
Start the Conversation, Begin the Planning
By candidly talking about what matters to you and informing others, you take the first step in controlling your future care. You’ll provide the guiding principles needed to confidently make decisions at a time when it makes a difference. Doing so can eliminate guesswork and deliver clarity, direction, and peace of mind to those involved.
- Watch something together to spark a conversation
Watching a program that addresses the subject is a good way to start a conversation. TCP has compiled a list of light-hearted to thought-provoking TV shows, movies, and documentaries to help. Their list of “10 Things to Watch Together to Jumpstart a Conversation” includes select episodes of The Simpsons, Blackish, Grey’s Anatomy, the Oscar winning movie The Farewell and more, along with descriptions of each.
- Do something you both enjoy
You can also use something that you and a loved one already enjoy doing together as an opportunity to have a conversation about how you’d like to be cared for in the future. Whether that’s hiking, gardening, or meeting for coffee after a yoga class, there’s no wrong time or place to start a conversation about your healthcare values.
- Have a family get together
One woman used the occasion of her father’s 85th birthday to gather several generations for a celebratory family barbecue…and to ask about the healthcare he would want. That prompted other members of the extended family to share their own thoughts, as shown on this video that appeared on the ABC Evening News. If you decide to organize your own gathering, it’s probably a good idea to let the other participants know what you’d like to discuss beforehand
Pick your person, Safeguard your choices
In addition to conversations about your values and care preferences, it’s also important to select someone you trust and are close to—a family member or best friend—to be your healthcare “proxy.” They help make sure your wishes are followed if you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
Resources to Guide You
The resources below will help you and loved ones think about and express your healthcare values and preferences and, when ready, document them. These put you in charge and are appropriate for a range of healthcare issues for current care planning through end-of-life care.
It’s never too early to plan for the future you want…and give both you and your loved ones’ peace of mind.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us at 800-869-2136. Capital Caring Health’s specially-trained staff are available to help you with any part of the process.
- Ice Breakers – how to start a conversation about care preferences
- What Matters to Me Workbook
- Conversation Starter Kit
- Conversation Starter Kit for Loved Ones of People with Alzheimer’s/Dementia
- Pediatric Starter Kit: Having the Conversation with Your Seriously Ill Child
- Your Guide to Choosing a Healthcare Proxy (new)
- Your Guide to Being a Healthcare Proxy (new)
- Healthcare Proxy FAQ (new)
- Watch: Picking the Right Person (new, available with Spanish subtitles)
- How to Talk to Your Doctor/Healthcare Team
- Legal forms including: Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Virginia POST (physician order for scope of treatment); Maryland MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment); and the DC Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST)
- Five Wishes
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us at 800-869-2136.
Capital Caring Health social workers are available to help you with any part of the process.