End-of-life planning isn't a topic most people want to discuss. Even when we approach the time at which those conversations make sense, at least some of our loved ones are likely to find the subject depressing or premature. But death is a natural part of this life, and as many of us know from personal experience, the whole experience can be much less traumatic when expectations and wishes have been made known ahead of time.
There's no time like the present to begin planning and discussing this subject with your family and friends. In fact, Monday, April 16th offers the perfect opportunity, as it is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), an initiative of The Conversation Project. The mission of the NHDD is to "inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning." The remainder of the week beginning April 16th is broken down in to "theme" days that support this mission, focusing on the aspects of this process and on the various parties who are involved in end-of-life decision-making.
End-of-Life Planning Resources
Research shows that the majority of people want to make sure their family members are not burdened by tough decisions, but also that most of those same people have not communicated their end-of-life wishes to their loved ones. In many cases, this is simply because these individuals don't feel they have a good way to begin that conversation. Thankfully, there are abundant resources available for just such a purpose, and they are easily accessible online.
A great place to start is with The Conversation Project's Conversation Starter Kit and their packet on Health Care Proxies. You will want to also consider including your physician in this conversation. The Conversation Project has resources available for this as well. Additionally, the NHDD website has a page dedicated to advance care planning where they make available links to a wide variety of resources that can assist throughout this process.
It's important to know your state's legal requirements concerning advance directives, so make sure to do some research on that topic ahead of time. You might find an advance directive format that works well for you and your loved ones to discuss and record your wishes, but you should make sure it is legally recognized in your state. If not, you can complete that document and attach it to your state's form.
Liberty HealthShare Membership and the End of Life
At Liberty HealthShare, we support our members as they take charge of and direct their own healthcare, at all phases of their lives. End-of-life planning is one of many ways in which we encourage our members to take responsibility for their own care and to exert their freedom as wise healthcare consumers.
Our Sharing Guidelines provide for limited End of Life Financial Assistance (item IV. E.) and address the subject of Provision for Eligible Medical Expenses After Death (item IV. F.). Not only do we want our members and their loved ones to feel supported, but we also want to make sure they understand how medical costs will be shared, especially during and after a loss.
Despite the inherent discomfort that comes with facing and discussing death, it's best to be prepared in order to mitigate misunderstandings at what can be an emotionally-charged time. With some advance planning, you can ensure your wishes are known and can be honored, even if you are unable to express them yourself. Take some time this month to give your loved ones the gift of clarity so you and they can enjoy life together now.