What kind of care would you want if you couldn’t speak for yourself?
It’s a difficult question to answer, and the answer can change over time, depending on your circumstances.
But however difficult it is to discuss these issues, and make these decisions, it is more difficult not to.
The process of making plans for the future is called advance care planning, and it happens far too infrequently. The result? Not only can people receive medical care they did not want, they can experience a loss of control over their entire care regimen.
On the other hand, studies find that people who will make advance care plans feel more in control of their care, feel more satisfied with their care, and feel that their care is aligned with their values.
While it seems so obvious that advance care planning improves care, most adults — even those who are seriously ill — avoid it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that approximately two thirds of adults, including people who are very ill, do not have an advance care plan.
It may not be entirely patient’s fault. Doctors will may also prefer to avoid this topic, and may also lack the time and training to hold these discussions.
In January 2016, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decided that advance care planning discussions were so important that they deserve to be built into the “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit, as well as all annual wellness visits. However a study conducted in mid-2016 found that only 14% of Medicare providers were taking advantage of Medicare reimbursement, and holding these conversations.
What to do? It’s clear that there is no easy answer, but a variety of approaches may help. The University of California, San Francisco, is trying an approach that avoids doctors altogether. They have put together (with major funding from the American Cancer Society, the National Institute on Aging, and a wide variety of foundations) a user-friendly website that uses videos and simple language to help people work out their advance care plan. The site, www.prepareforyourcare.org, is available in English and Spanish, and has had more than 100,000 unique visitors, from over 150 countries, since it launched in 2013.
At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our caregivers are trained to engage residents in conversations about their wishes. It’s just one of the ways we go out of our way to empower our residents and help them live their best life.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.