Advance Care Planning & The Conversation

April 16, 2014 was National Healthcare Decisions Day and I was fortunate enough to take part in an amazing event at the Kaiser Center in Oakland. In collaboration with several passionate volunteers and exhibitors from local hospices and healthcare industries, we broke down some of the stigmas and got to talking. Hundreds of people from all walks of life attended; many, sitting down to have The Conversation and complete their Advanced Healthcare Directive.

In our culture, it is taboo to discuss death; it is unsavory to discuss medical care; it is uncomfortable to talk with your friends and family about your wishes should you not be able to speak or act for yourself. But, it is a conversation that has the power to assure that all are put at ease should a serious illness or injury occur. Why aren’t we having these ‘conversations’? A 2012 California Healthcare Foundation Survey it was found some eye opening statistics:
• 60% of people agree that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important”, yet 56% have not communicated their end of life wishes.
• 70% of people state that they would prefer to die at home, yet 70% of all deaths occur in a hospital, nursing home of long term care facility.
• 80% of people feel that if they were seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end of life care, yet only 7% report having had an end of life conversation with their doctor.

Through the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and The Conversation Project, we are getting more people to have that talk. Recently, I trained to be a Conversation Facilitator which means that I can help guide people through the process of completing an Advanced Healthcare Directive. It is astonishing how simple it can be, yet how few people do it. Completing an Advanced Healthcare Directive is composed of three parts: designating a healthcare proxy which is someone that is able to communicate your healthcare choices if you are unable to, instructions for your healthcare stating which life sustaining treatments you want and don’t want; and your wishes for organ donation.

Do you and your loved ones a favor and schedule a time to have The Conversation. People of all ages should have a completed Advanced Healthcare Directive. For more information, please visit either of these two outstanding websites: and or contact Hired Hands Homecare for all your California senior care needs.

Erin Winter, VP of Operations
Hired Hands Homecare

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