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April 13, 2016

Letter: Take time for end-of-life planning
Salem Evening News

To the editor:

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, and I’d like to remind everyone to think and talk about how they wish to be treated in the event a medical crisis leaves them unable to speak for themselves. There are several tools that can help people have the conversation with loved ones and document their wishes, including the Massachusetts health care proxy form (available at www.caringinfo.org), Five Wishes (agingwithdignity.org) or Honoring Choices Massachusetts (Honoringchoicesmass.com).

At Care Dimensions, we’ve seen firsthand the stress families experience when conversations about health care wishes haven’t happened. Understanding options for end-of-life care — before the crisis of a life-limiting diagnosis — can help patients and families assume more control over decision making and avert unnecessary suffering and emotional distress.

We recommend you:

Discuss your wishes with your loved ones;

Complete advance directive form(s);

Witness and sign form(s);

Provide a copy to your loved ones and physician.

Although you don’t need an attorney to fill out or execute the forms, you might consider giving your lawyer a completed copy. Make sure you have copies of the completed, signed and witnessed forms for your loved ones, your doctor, and a copy at home that can be easily accessed in an emergency.

To learn more about available resources, please visit our website at www.caredimensions.org/planningahead.

Take action now to make your health care wishes known and encourage your loved ones to do the same — they will thank you for it!

Diane T. Stringer
President, Care Dimensions 
Danvers


Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.