The Conversation Project Sparks End of Life Care Talk – April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day

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The “Five Wishes” document will cover all of your bases for spelling out end of life care and the person who can make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer capable.

The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day ‰ÛÒ a time for families to consider discussing end-of-life care, especially before an illness strikes. Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn‰Ûªt choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain. I can certainly attest to that with the sudden death of my sister and a general lack of knowledge our immediate family had about her wishes. Upon moving mom from FL to NC, we completed the FIVE WISHES document to assure we were all on the same page with her care. Ironic that when we switched her health plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC included a Five Wishes document with her enrollment kit! The Conversation Project believes it is time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It‰Ûªs time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it‰Ûªs time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don‰Ûªt want for ourselves. The Assisted Living Federation of America notes that some people may want to bring up the issue at a small family gathering while others may want to broach the subject by announcing they‰Ûªve made a will, citing guidance offered by the National Institute on Aging. ‰ÛÏThere is no right or wrong plan, only what they would like,‰Û says the NIA. The nonprofit Conversation Project was founded in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to serve as a public engagement campaign with a goal of having every person‰Ûªs wishes for end-of-life care expressed and respected. The Conversation Project conducted a national survey last August and found that 90% of the respondents said they want to have ‰ÛÏthe conversation,‰Û but less than 30% are doing so. ‰ÛÏThe reasons range from person to person,‰Û said Mandy Ferguson, a project coordinator with the Conversation Project. ‰ÛÏPeople are scared or afraid of what loved ones might think. ‰Û_It‰Ûªs always too early until it‰Ûªs too late.‰Û The project offers a free online starter kit designed to offer tips and tools to talk about end-of-life issues. To date, more than 15,000 people have downloaded and printed it in English or Spanish. The Conversation Project also offers a guide on how to talk to a doctor about these issues. Senior living communities also can work with the Conversation Project to offer presentations to residents and their families. The project shares its standard slide deck and offers basic training and other resources to announce Conversation Project-related events at their community. Communities interested in offering presentations on the project should contact Ferguson at mferguson@ihi.orgLink Icon or visit the project‰Ûªs website at Studies show that when there is a meaningful conversation about end-of-life choices, survivors report feeling less guilt, less depressing and an easier grieving process, she said. Source: ALFA