This Thanksgiving, Share Wishes To Honor Loved Ones
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with friends and family, and reflect on why we are grateful. The holiday is also a time to remember loved ones who are no longer with us. This year let’s honor those we have lost by doing something special.
As you join your family and friends around the table this year, share what brings meaning and joy to your life. Allowing your family to understand what quality of life looks like for you could help them in the future if they are asked to make medical decisions on your behalf. If we don’t have these conversations, our families may be forced to make difficult decisions without having any guidance from us.
Think back to your loved ones who are no longer with you. Did you know their wishes? Was your family faced with difficult decisions that could have been avoided if conversations had taken place?
Having these conversations can also create wonderful opportunities to connect on a deeper level. It doesn’t have to be a sad or depressing conversation; focus on the aspects that make your life meaningful. Everyone, regardless of their age, can participate. You may be surprised to hear some of the responses.
Having this conversation is the first important step in the process of creating an advance directive. However, it is also necessary to document your wishes in a document such as a Five Wishes or Illinois Health Care Power of Attorney. The form requires you to select one person who would be your “health agent”, the person you identify to make your health care decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself. It’s also a good idea to identify successors, in case your health agent is unavailable. Identifying who would be the best person for this role is one of the most important aspects of this process. When thinking of this ask yourself:
· Does this person know me well?
· Would this person be willing to carry out my wishes, even if he or she may not agree with them?
· Would he/she be comfortable talking with and questioning physicians and health care providers?
· Would this person be able to fulfill my wishes, without becoming too upset?
Once you have completed your document about sharing your wishes if you are unable to speak for yourself, make sure you share it with your health agent, physician and family. It’s important that everyone understands your wishes so in a time of crisis, your health agent has the support of others.
So over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, let’s honor those who are no longer with us by having these important conversations with our loved ones. Let’s provide them with guidance, so they can feel confident knowing they are following our wishes.
November is also National Hospice and Palliative Care month. We encourage you to Know Your Options - the best time to make a decision is not in a time of crisis or when you’re faced with a serious illness. Palliative care offers comfort and support earlier in the course of an illness. Hospice offers high-quality, compassionate care when a cure is not possible. Together, hospice and palliative care help patients and families live each moment to the fullest.