What if? ….

What if the unspeakable happened?

What if you were too ill or a sudden accident made it impossible for you to speak for yourself?

What if your family had to make decisions about your care and health care treatments?

What if your family wasn’t sure about what you would want?

What if your family members had different opinions about what you would want?

What if instead of spending time comforting each other and being with you your family was in conflict?

If you don’t have an Advance Care Plan and have not shared it with the important people in your life this could happen to you.  Making an Advance Care Plan is about thinking about how your health and personal care can fit with your personal values, preferences and your unique situation. It is about sharing your thoughts with people you care about and naming someone you trust to speak for you (called a Substitute Decision Maker). A recent national survey indicates that while more than 90% of Canadians think talking about their wishes and preferences for care is important; less than 36% have talked with their families and fewer than 20% have made an Advance Care Plan.

Help your family and help yourself. Think about how you would like to receive care if you couldn’t speak for yourself. Decide who you would like to speak for you. Tell them what you want and make sure they are comfortable with that responsibility. Then write down your wishes, store the document in a safe place and make sure your family knows where to find your Advance Care Plan.

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association has several tools and resources to help you make an Advance Care Plan (Speak Up). The ‘Speak Up’ workbook) walks you through the steps of making an Advance Care Plan. The workbook and related resources offer tips and ideas about ways to start a conversation with your family. Having an Advance Care Plan is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family. Knowing your thoughts and wishes can bring a sense of relief and comfort in a time of distress and uncertainty.

Having an Advance Care Plan can change the story to:

What if the unspeakable happened?

What if you were too ill or a sudden accident made it impossible for you to speak for yourself?

What if you had made an Advance Care Plan?

What if your family knew where to find your Advance Care Plan and shared your wishes with your health care team?

What if your family was able to spend time comforting each other and being with you because they knew they were honoring and respecting your wishes and voice?

Speak Up….Your Voice Matters.

 April 16 is Advance Care Planning Day. Start your Advance Care Plan today.

Article submitted by: Dr Mary Ann Murray RN PhD CHPCN(C), Director, Advance Care Planning in Canada.