Thursday, April 25, 2013

It’s Never Too Soon for Advance Care Planning

Mere days after National Healthcare Decision Day, CQ published an op-ed on the topic of advanced planning from Don Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Advance care planning has more and more been the topic of conversation in recent years, brought to light by both the aging baby boomer generation, and by news coverage of families fighting for control over end of life decisions.

In his op-ed, Schumacher points out that “year after year, we take the time to arrange family vacations, save for retirement and even plan what next year’s garden will look like. Why, then, wouldn’t we allot similar time to discussing and deciding what we want in our last months of life?

According to some recent estimates cited in the op-ed, nearly 20 percent of those in hospice care are under the age of 65. The stark reality highlights that individuals cannot wait to plan until they are ready, because that time may not come until it is too late.

Right now, there are bills in the House and the Senate that would increase the palliative care faculty and training at educational institutions across the country. There is also a bill, the Personalize Your Care Act of 2013, which would provide many citizens with healthcare coverage for advanced planning.

The conversations don’t have to be hard, says Schumacher. There are resources available to help facilitate the conversations in whatever context they occur, from legal to spiritual. Advanced planning also alleviates the burden among family who may argue about the best course of treatment if no preferences are expressed.

See NAHAM News’ original coverage of National Healthcare Decision Day here

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