Planning for the End of Life

Planning for the End of Life

By: Elaine Northcutt

Many people still believe that healthcare decisions are made by healthcare providers. They are not. Healthcare decisions are made by you or your agent for healthcare decisions (if you are incapacitated and unable to do so). Healthcare providers offer best options for treatment and care.

Good healthcare decisions depend on a well-informed consumer. This is referred to as healthcare literacy. (For more information on the basics of healthcare literacy, click on this link). I bet you didn’t know you needed to know all of these things!

OASIS Lifelong Learning Center, now located at Grossmont Center is offering workshops this summer on topics in healthcare literacy presented by Barbara Bailey, RN, MSN, Nurse Educator, a friend and colleague through our affiliation with the San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care. The series is an excellent primer on aging and healthcare planning. Whether you are an adult child with an aging parent or a senior, there is much to discern through learning.

Barbara's workshop on How to Talk to Your Doctor About End of Life Care is especially noteworthy. It is the responsibility of the consumer / patient to initiate this conversation. This workshop will make it easier to open up about dying and death and teach you how to have substantive conversations on how to plan and facilitate decision making when end of life care decisions need to be made.

Planning Your Future Healthcare is another workshop worth considering helping consumers assess, anticipate, plan and prepare for declining health. Aging does not have to be a crisis when decline happens if you are prepared and able to adapt to changing circumstances and needs.

Barbara is facilitating two Death Cafe workshops. Death Cafes are a safe, comfortable and neutral setting to just talk about death. To learn more about Death Cafes in San Diego and how they work, go to their Facebook page at San Diego Death Cafes.

A workshop on What is Palliative Care? will help consumers understand the distinctions between the role of palliative care in managing your healthcare. It is vitally important for all consumers to know when palliative care is appropriate. If you are not familiar with this kind of care in medicine, it is an important concept to understand.

How to be Helpful When Someone is Grieving is another workshop in this summer series that speaks to a human experience we all struggle with and often have difficulty recognizing in ourselves and in others. Our culture does not fully recognize or appreciate the needs of those experiencing grief. How we manifest grief and loss is unique to every person. How to respond to that emotional space when others are in it, is a great gift and social grace we can all learn and improve on.

Many people mistakenly assume that having an estate plan is all they need to ensure that their needs will be met as they age. An estate plan is not enough. In addition to an estate plan, you need a life care plan, and end-of-life care plan, and a plan for incapacity (physical and cognitive). I will be writing more about these topics in the near future. I am in the process of preparing a workshop for the Fall classes tentatively called Aging Readiness Workshop. Stay tuned.

In the end— we all have a personal responsibility to ourselves. This is not a burden for your children, MediCARE, the government or your doctor to manage. It is yours and yours alone. Respect your “self.” Care for the body you were given, tend to your family, friends and relations, tend to your psyche, intellect, and your Spirit “selves.” Protect your right to make decisions while you can to ensure your quality of life, quality of care—and a peaceful and dignified end. That takes planning, preparation, desire and follow-through. It will only happen if you do it. Check out the new OASIS location at Grossmont Center!

See the series of classes offered by Barbara Bailey, RN, MSN Nurse Educator by clicking here.
It is time well spent and the cost is only $12 per class.

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