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Advance Care Planning:
Another Critical Conversation
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At Arbor Memorial, we are strong advocates of having the conversation with your family about your final wishes. Planning your funeral and cemetery arrangements in advance means you can discuss the options with family in a relaxed, stress-free environment.
Along with your final arrangements, the conversation should include planning for your future health care. If you were sick and couldn’t speak for yourself, would your family know your wishes? You might be surprised by the space between what you want for your future care and what your loved ones think you want. It’s important that the people who would make health care decisions in case you cannot speak for yourself know about your values, what is meaningful in your life, and how you would like decisions to be made.
April 16 is National Advance Care Planning Day, a day to promote conversations about your wishes and values for your future health care. The accompanying Speak Up website is full of information, tools, and prompts to help with starting these conversations. There are also links to resources for specific provinces and territories, because the process of expressing values and wishes differs across the country.
“It’s commonplace to hear stories of people who were sure their loved ones knew what they wanted, but had never sat down to check with them and talk it out, ” says Dr. Chad Hammond, Program Manager of the initiative. “When they finally did, they were quite shocked at what their family and friends had assumed. That first conversation can be a bit of a revelation for some, but loved ones are always grateful to have the opportunity to clarify things.”
So the question is: Do your loved ones know about your wishes? Until you talk to them, how will they know? There are many ways to get the conversation started! Remember, it may take a few attempts - you don’t need to have the entire conversation at once. A few relaxed chats will help loved ones understand and support your health care and end-of-life decisions.