Denyse Lynch has a special perspective on Advance Care Planning – she helped her father make his own plans and carried them out in the months leading to his death last year at the age of 97. “I told him I would walk him to the door and I did,” she recalls. Today, she is an advocate for caregivers of seniors, and the importance of advance care planning.

“My father was always a planner,” says Lynch. “He raised the topic of Advance Care Planning with me. Like everyone else, I thought it could be dealt with later. However, he persisted and we developed a plan together.” Lynch was glad to have the plan in place as she navigated five months of her father being in palliative care. “It’s a very stressful and emotional situation,” she says. “When caring for an elderly parent, it is important to keep things as simple as possible. I didn’t have the burden of wondering if I was doing the right thing. I knew what his wishes were and focused on medical care that would keep him comfortable. I learned that some medical procedures just postpone the inevitable and don’t contribute to quality of life.”

Today, Lynch publishes a newsletter called Our Health Care, Our Choices. The newsletter covers a variety of topics, including the need to focus spending on providing direct services to residents of nursing homes, and the importance of planning and having conversations with family members and caregivers.

She has also organized two information sessions in the Swan Lake Village community in Markham – Ontario, where she lived – along with guest speaker, Earl Campbell, a member of the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board, which reviews an individual’s ability to make decisions about health care.

In 2015, she hopes to see similar events in Durham Region, east of Toronto, where she lives. She discusses Advance Care Planning whenever she can. “My friends learned a lot from my experience with my father.” She looks back on her father’s final journey with pride and without regrets. “He had a good long life. I know that I did what he wanted.”

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Contact Denyse at: denyselynch@rogers.com.