To help avoid that circumstance, a group of resident physicians at Tidelands Health have been focused over the past year on an advocacy project that has gotten folks talking about end-of-life planning. They’ve led discussions at local libraries and nursing homes.
They’ve also introduced people to the importance of the “Five Wishes,” a step-by-step guide for end-of-life planning from the national non-profit Aging with Dignity.
People, even those who are young and currently healthy, are asked to think about:
- Who would make my care decisions for me when I cannot?
- What kind of medical treatment do I want or don’t want?
- How comfortable would I want to be?
- How do I want people to treat me?
- What do I want my loved ones to know?
As a precaution, when patients are admitted to Tidelands Health hospitals they are asked to specify their wishes should an unexpected event occur that might require extraordinary medical care, such as mechanical breathing.
Dr. Germinario acknowledges that talking about your own death or that of a loved one isn’t easy. As difficult as it may be to discuss, end-of-life planning brings peace of mind.
“It brings comfort when people know their wishes will be honored in a circumstance where they are unable to make decisions for themselves,” Dr. Germinario says. “They also know their family will face less stress in this type of scenario.”
Bringing up the topic of end-of-life planning with a loved one should be handled sensitively.
“The question must come from a place of love and respect for the loved one,” he says. “It should be an honest discussion and center around wanting to respect the loved one’s wishes and autonomy.”