National Healthcare Decisions Day: Let’s Plan It Together
When I tell young people about my job at Compassion & Choices, they’re often more eager to talk about end-of-life options than you would think. They’ve seen or cared for loved ones who’ve gone through the dying process or prolonged illness. Sometimes, they work in hospitals or nursing homes and care for people in their everyday lives. They always agree: planning is important for other people — for their grandparents, their parents, their patients. But what about themselves?
I didn’t consider the importance of my own end-of-life planning until my brother Chad died at 25. Suddenly, my family was scrambling to live out “what Chad would’ve wanted” — something none of us could really know. I could picture my brother, my friends, my other siblings saying things like “play this song at my funeral!” but I couldn’t find any tangible evidence of what any of them would really want if they got sick or even died.
So I grabbed a stack of planning resources from work and started my own journey of planning for the end of life. When I opened the End of Life Decisions Guide and Toolkit as a consumer instead of a C&C employee, I was struck by just how little I’d considered these issues for myself. I believe in many of these options in the abstract, but how do they apply to me?
I also realized how much the information was useful to my life now, not in some distant future. This toolkit, and C&C’s mission, is all about empowering people to make healthcare decisions for themselves with the best information available. It’s about being informed and educated about your options. After I filled out my advance directive and had these conversations with family and friends, I felt more empowered in a doctor’s office than ever before.
For the first time, I felt like I could advocate for myself and the care that I want and don’t want. I realized I could ask questions and do research before making healthcare decisions. I also feel more prepared for the day when my grandparents, parents, aunt and uncles, might need my help. The first step to becoming an advocate for others, is to become one for yourself.
If you want to get started on this journey, my colleague Matt is leading a webinar on Friday, April 16 for young people to start planning for the end of life. Registration is open now!