Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Importance of advance care directives

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Talking about your end-of-life care wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers isn’t an easy task. Avera eCARE Senior Care and The Good Samaritan Society are working together to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making.

It’s certainly not an easy conversation. But it’s one that healthcare professionals at Avera and The Good Samaritan Society want to become easier for loved ones to have together – before it’s too late.

“I like to try to tell our families that you get insurance and hope you never have to use it. So we have to do advance care planning with hope you never have to use it but when you need it, you’re really glad that you’ve done it,” said Michele Snyders, social worker with Avera eCARE Senior Care.

An Advance Care Directive is a document that reflects your wishes if something were to happen where you couldn’t speak on your own behalf in terms of healthcare decisions.

“Part of it is appointing somebody to be your spokesperson if you were to be ill or have an accident, not able to make your own health care decisions. And the other part of that is to kind of document your preferences, what your priorities are if you were to be that ill,” said Dr. Francine Arneson with Avera Medical Group Palliative Medicine.

The video “Being Mortal” shows how advance care planning impacts families.

“It certainly relieves a burden off of our loved ones, off of our families. If we have things in writing and have had a conversation with our loved ones, all of a sudden they’re not on the hook to make decisions for us. They’re just following our personal preferences and wishes when the time comes,” said Dr. Arneson.

This written document can put family members at ease.

“To be able to look at that document and see it’s mom or dad’s handwriting and know that’s actually coming from them. A lot of times it’s one sole family member that knows that person the best and knows what their wishes are but the other family members might not trust that or feel like that they know better or more. And so to have an actual document, being in their writing, is a tell all. It just solves a lot of problems,” said Stacia Klock, senior living sales associate with The Good Samaritan Society Sioux Falls Village Campus.

Advance care directives are not just for the elderly.

“18 and older, we should all be talking and thinking about it because we never know what the future holds and so it’s important that we have these conversations with our family so that they know how to speak on behalf if the worst happens,” said Dr. Arneson.

For more information contact the Avera Ask-A-Nurse team at 800-658-3535 or click on the link with this article.