Have the Conversation and Do It Now…

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photograph by Loretta Himmelsbach

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Jim Jaeger and Sandra Nuernberg urged all Rotarians and guests to begin the process of planning for future medical care.  Jaeger and Nuernberg represent the Association of Spiritual Caregivers working with Meriter Foundation and the Gundersen Medical Foundation in La Crosse.

All of us have likely thought about end of life care; some of us have created a living will or other advance care document.  But how many of us have had the “conversation” with our family, friends and agents about end of life care?   60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is extremely important, but 56% have not communicated their end of life wishes.

Jaeger and Nuernberg showed a video about a couple who were having the conversation.   Benefits include peace of mind, putting your family at ease about what decisions to make for you when you are unable, having an agent to represent you who is willing and capable of advocating your wishes on your behalf.  And knowing what you want done at end of life will potentially save money and extend life by taking the pressure off.

Jaeger noted that Advance Care Planning is a process, beginning with you and others understanding that decisions will need to be made in the likely event you will not be able to do so.  Next you need to reflect on what you do want to happen, then have a discussion with loved ones, medical advisers and agents about your wishes.   Those choices will be written down and then this should be part of your medical record.

Also, plan to review this document over time as your situation may change and you may want to alter your plans.  There are resources and organizations to help you have “the conversation”.   For an information booklet answering commonly asked questions about advance care planning, contact Gundersen Health System,
La Crosse, WI 800-362-9567, ext. 56748.

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