Video Transcript below.
Hello! My name is Lynn MacKenzie. I have worked in the field of Advance Care Planning for over a decade, and I am glad you are here to learn more about what advance care planning is and why it’s so important to fill out your own healthcare directive. We are here to help. During this advance care planning educational session, we will cover the following topics.
What exactly is advance care planning & what is a healthcare directive?
What does Living Well mean to you, or, as some might say, what is a good day for you? What matters most to you?
We will also explore – how to think through what you may or may not want for medical treatments and more specifically as it relates to CRP.
What to look for in selecting a HealthCare Agent, in other words qualities in a spokesperson who can speak on your behalf in the event you are unable to.
What makes my healthcare directive a legal document in the state of Minnesota.
What are local resources that can help you complete your documents and make them legal? Finally, what are your next steps?
We hope you find this helpful and remember – we’re here to help! (2 minutes)
Let’s start at the beginning: What is advance care planning and health care directives?
Advance Care Planning is a term that encompasses all aspects of healthcare planning for your future. This presentation is to help you get started working on your own plan – to help you think about your own health care wishes and what’s important to you. It is an important step in completing a health care directive, which is a written document that informs others of your wishes about your health care. All adults should plan and complete a health care directive, because any of us could have a sudden health crisis requiring someone else to make healthcare decisions for us.
Let’s watch a short 3-minute video that depicts this. It’s called Imagine.
As you saw in the video, advance care planning is a process based on conversations that clarify your priorities and preferences to help guide future health care decisions. These are written down in a health care directive. A health care directive is a legal document that ONLY goes into effect if you cannot speak for yourself.
Advance care planning encompasses more than just the document. As you see with this umbrella, it involves the whole person – what are your thoughts, your feelings, your wishes, your choices. Some people don’t even realize they have choices, but most importantly it’s about having the conversation about your choices with your
loved ones and Physician. In a nutshell, advance care planning is about planning for the “what if’s” in life that may occur across the entire lifespan.
We’ve talked about what advance care planning is, but why should you care?
As we saw in the Imagine video, “life happens.” We also saw over the past several years the impact of Covid-19. Disease and accidents are no respecter of age, race, profession, or beliefs. You should care because your wishes matter and so do your loved ones.
Myths vs. Reality: There are some common misunderstandings about health care directives that you may have heard. Some people think you need an attorney to create a health care directive and it costs money. You do not need an attorney and it does NOT cost money. Or some people may think you can’t make changes, but you can at any time. Others worry about what rights the health care agent they designate will have. In reality the health care agent can only make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself.
A healthcare directive is for all adults over the age of 18, and all health care directive forms allow you to appoint a health care agent and document your health care wishes. There are many different health care directive forms you can use, such as those from Honoring Choices MN, the VA, the Catholic Church, 5-Wishes, etc. It is not so important which form you use, just that you complete one.
It is always good to explore what “living well” or “quality of life” means to you. But this is different for different people. Exploring what “living well” or what a good day looks like to you in your world may help you identify what matters most to you in life and what you may or may not want for medical treatment.
Some questions you might want to consider or ask yourself:
- What gives your life meaning?
- If you had an ideal day, what would it include?
- Do you have spiritual, religious, cultural, or personal beliefs you want others to know about?
- What gives you strength or brings you comfort in difficult situations?
- Do you have any goals for your current health situation?
- Do you have concerns about the future with your health?
Is there anything else you would want others to know about you? Take the time to consider these important questions. Knowing your answers will help you complete your health care directive when you are ready.
The section of your health care directive that talks about treatment preferences and CPR is often challenging for people, because most of us don’t have much experience with these processes. We will be watching a video shortly that will help to explain what these treatments can be like. When you get to the treatment section of your health care directive you may want to imagine the following situation: a sudden event (such as a car accident or Illness) has left you unable to communicate. You are receiving all the care needed to keep you alive. The doctors believe there is a 5% chance you will recover and retain the ability to know who you are or who you are with. In this situation, would you want to continue medical treatment? Or would you want to stop medical treatment? Know that in either case, you will still get the care you need to keep you comfortable.
Let’s watch together the video on CPR, DNR, and DNI:
These are a lot of things to think about, but hopefully this video has helped you understand your options.
Now that you’ve had an opportunity to understand what Advance Care Planning & health care directives are, what “living well” looks like to you, and some of your preferred treatment options, it’s time to look at qualities you would or would not want in a Spokesperson, or “Health Care Agent,” as we call them in the State of MN.
A health care agent is a trusted person that can follow through with what you may or may not want for care. This person doesn’t need to be a family member.
There are certain qualities that you should consider in choosing your health care agent. They should be:
- Someone with whom you can discuss your values and goals
- Willing to accept this responsibility
- Able to follow YOUR wishes
- Able to make decisions in stressful situations
If you can’t check off all these qualities, you may consider someone else for your health care agent. Let’s watch a very short video that shows the qualities of a Health Care Agent that you may, or may not want to speak on your behalf, if you are unable to communicate.
I hope you enjoyed this short video and now have a clearer understanding of qualities you should consider when selecting your Health Care Agent. If you are not able to fill out the full Health Care Directive at this time, at least appoint a Health Care Agent you trust who can speak on your behalf in the event you are not able to.
Now that we’ve gone through all of the steps to complete your health care directive, it’s time to make it legal.
To make your health care directive a legal document is really quite simple. All you need is either two witnesses or a notary. They will witness you signing your health care directive once you have completed the document. The only caveat with the two witnesses is that neither one of the witnesses can be your health care agent or alternate agent. Notaries can be found at your bank, and most hospitals and clinics will have them also. There are even mobile notaries who can come to you. If you can’t find a notary, it’s easy to round up two witnesses.
What’s next? A few things come to mind….
Once you have completed your health care directive, don’t just file it away with the rest of your documents. It needs to be accessible, or your caregivers will not know how best to support you. Keep your notarized or signed original copy someplace safe but accessible at home. Do NOT keep it somewhere locked, like a safety deposit box. Some people even elect to keep a copy of their directive in a very noticeable place like on the refrigerator.
Copies, either electronic or paper, should be given to your health care team and scanned into your medical records. Your appointed health care agents should also receive a copy. And make sure to take one with you whenever you’re on the road – in your car, and in your luggage when you travel.
Once you have completed your health care directive, it’s good to review periodically to make sure it is still in line with your values, quality of life, and health goals or concerns.
A good way to remember when to review your health care directive is to consider the 5 D’s.
Take the time to review your health care wishes:
- every Decade (or sooner)
- with any new Diagnosis of a serious health condition
- if you experience a Divorce (or go through any other major life events)
- if you experience a significant Decline or deterioration of your health, especially if you are newly unable to live on your own
- in the event of a Death (if you experience a death that triggers new thoughts for you, or if your health care agent or alternate agent dies)
What kind of resources are available?
While you are in the hospital, feel free to ask any staff person for a health care directive form you can begin filling out and take home with you. Another resource in the hospital is the spiritual care team, or chaplains, who can help you think through the values that will inform your health care wishes. They are freely available to all people of any or no faith and are specially trained to help you make sense of these issues. You can also always access Honoring Choices resources online.
Is there someone who can help me complete my health care directive?
Light the Legacy/Honoring Choices hosts many educational sessions where trained volunteers are available to help you through the process of filling out your health care directive. These are some of the local sites we have available. These resources are FREE! More information can be found at https://www.honoringchoices.org.
If you are unable to attend in-person sessions, or want to invite a friend who does not live locally, we also offer free virtual sessions via Zoom twice a month. There is a monthly DAY session and EVENING session available for your convenience. Visit www.lightthelegacy.org to find the link to join!
We believe advance care planning is a gift of love we give ourselves, our loved ones, and all those who care for us.
Thank you for taking the time to watch this video and think about your own values, wishes, and future. By watching along, you have already begun the process of advance care planning! We are here to help as you continue on your journey. You can find us any time at https://www.honoringchoices.org.
Thank you and be well.