We all plan ahead for expected events such as vacations, a birth or a wedding.
It is just as important to plan ahead for the health care you want in the future and at the end of life.
It is equally importantly to write those wishes down and talk about them with loved ones and doctors.
Without these conversations, your health care providers and family would not know what you want if a health care crisis were to occur. Written instructions make sure you still have control of your care should you become seriously ill or face end-of-life circumstances.
These aren’t easy decisions to make or easy conversations to have, but they are a must, which is why a new initiative called My Life My Choices is urging citizens to begin the process.
April is South Carolina Healthcare Decisions Month, and My Life My Choices is educating citizens about advance directives as a way to plan ahead so they get the medical care they want now and in the future.
If you become terminally ill, seriously injured, slip into a coma, or encounter the late stages of dementia, written advance directives help doctors and those who care for you make choices based on your wishes.
While Healthcare Decisions Month is meant to raise awareness about advance directives, there is much more to it than that. The month is also meant to encourage people to hold meaningful conversations about health care preferences.
To help start those difficult conversations, try using a book or a movie as a chance to bring up the subject. Or refer to a situation your family would know, like the experience of a friend or neighbor.
In addition to urging the public to talk about their wishes, My Life My Choices, an initiative of the South Carolina Coalition for the Care of the Seriously Ill, is encouraging health care practitioners and professionals to have conversations about advance care planning with patients as part of their daily practice.
Although most people recognize the importance of advance care planning, very few have taken the steps to communicate and document their wishes. That is why this call to action is so important.
Individuals and organizations throughout South Carolina are invited to visit www.mylifemychoices.org to sign our pledge to participate and help raise awareness about this important issue.
The My Life My Choices website provides tools to help South Carolinians understand that making future health care decisions involves doing more than deciding what care they would or would not want.
It starts with thinking about preferences and clarifying values, talking about care preferences and writing down those preferences in an advance directive that is shared with loved ones and doctors.
The site provides resources to help individuals and communities get started as well as a schedule of educational events in local areas.
None of us knows when life might take an unexpected turn. By planning now, you can rest easier knowing that you have a plan that helps you avoid unnecessary suffering and spares loved ones the burden of making difficult decisions about your life during moments of crisis.