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Take time to think about future care

By By Kim Beckham, Kathleen Carey and Valorie Armstrong
April 11, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.
Updated April 10, 2012 at 11:11 p.m.

From left to right: Kathleen Carey, with Hospice of South Texas; Kim Beckham, with LTC Financial Partners; and Valorie Armstrong, with Homewood Residence.

Who will speak for you in case you suffer a life-threatening injury or sudden critical illness?

Too many of us procrastinate on advance-care planning discussions because the timing just doesn't feel right or because it's a hard topic to bring up with our family. We are reluctant to talk about our medical wishes in case of serious illness or the end of life. Too often the result is family conflict and confusion at a time when you are most vulnerable and cannot speak for yourself.

A recent study found that approximately 80 percent of people said they believed that advance healthcare planning was important, yet less than 25 percent had actually engaged in it. For those who do not have their advance care planning in place, their families are going to be thrust into situations in which the family members face the reality of why advance care planning is so important. The absence of advance care planning all too often leads to pain, confusion, frustration, additional time and expense, worry, bickering and myriad other problems among family members.

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day, the day to name someone to speak for you when you can no longer speak for yourself. All adults can benefit from thinking about what their health-care choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves. These decisions should be written down so that others know what your wishes are.

Victoria-area residents can participate in National Healthcare Decisions Day by attending Decisions and Dinner: a free seminar on advance-care planning to obtain the advance-directive documents you need to name a durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions. Decisions and Dinner will be held Monday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Homewood Residence, 9609 NE Zac Lentz Parkway. The event is free, but reservations are required. Please call Homewood at 361-582-2100 by Friday.

The website of National Healthcare Decisions Day, www.nhdd.org, offers a variety of resources on topics of advance directions and end of life care. Advance-directive forms for every state, as well as conversation starters to use with your family, are all available for free on this website.

It is our sincere hope that National Healthcare Decisions Day will encourage every adult in the Victoria area to talk to others about future healthcare decisions and complete advance directives.

This guest editorial is submitted by local sponsors of National Healthcare Decisions Day: Kim Beckham of LTC Financial Partners, Kathleen Carey of Hospice of South Texas, and Valorie Armstrong of Homewood Residence.

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