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April 18, 2017

Take action to make your health care wishes known
The Salem News

To the editor:

This is the 10-year anniversary of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), April 16, a day that was founded to inspire, educate and empower the public and healthcare providers about the importance of advance care planning. This special initiative creates an opportunity to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding how much treatment they want to receive at end of life and for health care providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.

Care Dimensions would like to take this opportunity 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. As a hospice and palliative care physician for the past 18 years, I’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 an accident or life-limiting diagnosis — can help patients and families assume more control over decision making and avert unnecessary suffering and emotional distress.

 
There are several tools that can help people have the conversation with loved ones and document their wishes — Honoring Choices MA (Honoringchoicesmass.com), Five Wishes (agingwithdignity.org) or The Conversation Project (theconversationproject.org). You can visit our website at CareDimensions.org/planningahead for links to these resources and more.

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.

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.

Dr. Stephanie Patel
Chief medical officer, Care Dimensions 


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.