When it comes to planning for the unexpected many of us tend to put it off because no one wants to think about their own mortality. But, it is precisely because something can happen at any moment that we absolutely have to do at least some basic life planning.
Last week the town of La Crosse made it into the news1. This small town in Wisconsin has changed the way its citizens view life planning; they view it as an ordinary part of their day-to-day conversations, particularly when it comes to advance health care directives. And when someone does not have any plan in place, a minority in La Crosse, that’s when the awkward conversations begin.
This town’s approach is not the norm-but maybe it should be? While thinking about ‘the unthinkable’ (a term I have heard numerous times when discussing health care directives) is difficult and unpleasant, it is something that should be thought about and taken care of before it is too late. Even if ‘the unthinkable’ does not happen, what happens if you are in a car accident, are temporarily unconscious, and need medical care? Who will decide what kind of care you get? Will it be the kind of care you would want? If a procedure is not mandatory but may be beneficial, who will decide if you should undergo that procedure? Will cost be a factor? What about your personal medical concerns? What if you have a medical condition that is not readily apparent – who will make sure the doctors are aware of your situation?
These questions, along with a slew of others, need to be planned out so that if something were to happen, everyone is prepared as best as they can be. When you make your own decisions about your health care, you remain in control of what happens to you. But if you cannot make your own decisions, wouldn’t you want to remain as in control as possible? By creating an advance health care directive that is exactly what you are doing. While you are giving someone else the power to make health care decisions on your behalf, you are dictating who that person is and what that person needs to know about you and your wishes when making decisions.
So follow La Crosse’s example and get on board with making a health care directive. Get it done, and then you can stop thinking about it!
If you would like more information about health care directives or planning in general, please feel free to contact our office.
1 Joffe-Walt, Chana (NPR), The Town Where Everyone Talks About Death. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/03/05/286126451/living-wills-are-the-talk-of-the-town-in-la-crosse-wis?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=npr&utm_campaign=nprnews&utm_content=03062014 (March 05, 2014)