Care Dimensions: Urgent: Make Your Health Care Wishes Known This Holiday Season

Voices of Care

Urgent: Make Your Health Care Wishes Known This Holiday Season

Posted on November 16, 2020 by Mary Crowe, LICSW, ACHP-SW, C.D.S, CDP

Care Dimensions' Mary Crowe, LICSW, ACHP-SW, C.D.S, CDP, delivers a lecture on the importance of advance directives.

Family gatherings that traditionally occur during the holiday season are always a good time to talk with loved ones about your health care wishes.

With the impact/presence of COVID-19, it’s time to think differently – and more urgently – about having those conversations.

Maybe you’ve been meaning to talk to loved ones about what type of treatment you would or wouldn’t want if you were unable to speak for yourself. Or perhaps your parents have been reluctant to express their own health care wishes. COVID-19 has had a global impact, this type of outbreak warrants a call to action. At a time when we are struggling with uncertainty, it is more important than ever to take charge of one’s health care wishes.

Limiting attendance at holiday gatherings is one of several tips the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued for reducing the spread of COVID-19.  If your gathering is much smaller or doesn’t occur this year due to the pandemic, you still can have advance care planning conversations with those important to you, even if you’re not together. Consider having a virtual meeting on Zoom, FaceTime, or some other video conferencing platform. If your loved one doesn’t have that capability, a good old phone call will work, too.

By not having these important discussions, it can create a tremendous burden for those trying to determine what your health care wishes may have been. It’s critically important to choose a health care agent wisely who will be your voice when you cannot speak for yourself and have those important discussions about health care preferences before a crisis hits. 

Did you know that only one-third of adults have an advance directive? Advance directives (such as a health care proxy, power of attorney, and living will) are not just for those who are facing a serious or advanced illness, they are for anyone who is at least 18 years old.

See my article, “Who Will Speak for YOU if You Are Too Ill to Speak for Yourself?”, which gives step-by-step directions for making and sharing your health care choices. Also see ahead for links to advance care planning resources.

Here’s to a safe holiday season and good conversation!


About the author
Mary Crowe, LICSW, ACHP-SW, C.D.S, CDP, is Director of Professional and Community Education for Care Dimensions.

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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 95 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.