Advance Care Planning: Let’s Talk About It
What is Advance Care Planning and Why Complete an Advance Care Directive? How Do I Start the Conversation?
Advance Care Planning is not merely the completion of a health care directive. Instead, it is a thoughtful process, ideally utilizing a certified Advance Care Planning Facilitator who has been trained to engage patients in discussions with loved ones about their desires and values for future health care treatment decisions. The result of these conversations is usually a written document known as a health care directive.
Your family, no doubt, wants only the best for you and preplanning allows you to communicate your desires about your health care to them clearly. Let’s face it, if for any reason you cannot advocate for yourself, it is possible that your family members might disagree about what they believe your wishes are for your own health care. Advance Planning ensures your voice can still be heard and your wishes are followed to the letter, as well as removes that pressure off of your family.
The holidays are a perfect time to start talking with your friends and family members about what you want. When people are together, focused on relationships, gratitude, and love it is a great opportunity to have meaningful conversations and heartfelt sharing about what matters most. Some questions to consider:
- What really makes life worth living?
- What memories do you have of people in your life “living right up until the end”?
- When you think of the future, who will be important in your life?
- What do you want to be sure your caregivers know about you?
- If you could no longer communicate, what messages do you want to still be heard?
We encourage you to take advantage of having loved ones gathered at the holidays to have this important discussion.
Honoring Choices Minnesota promotes the importance of these ongoing conversations and acknowledges that this process can be incredibly tough for some people. Honoring Choices Minnesota is a collaborative, state-wide Advance Care Planning initiative led by Twin Cities Medical Society through its Foundation. The medical society serves as the convener and coordinator, utilizing its unique access to health care organizations and medical professionals. Beginning in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and spreading across the state, Honoring Choices Minnesota’s goal is to spur family conversations about future health care preferences and to assist health care organizations and community partners with the installation of a comprehensive advance care planning program.
Honoring Choices Minnesota has grown Advance Care Planning into a movement which is a truly remarkable example of how both health care and non-health care organizations can work together to provide better medical care for Minnesotans.
Our presenter will be able to answer questions regarding the difference between a Health Care Directive, a POLST and other related documents.
Kerry Gervais Hjelmgren is the Executive Director of Honoring Choices Minnesota, a public health initiative of the Twin Cities Medical Society. She is a certified Advance Care Planning Facilitator and Facilitator Instructor through Respecting Choices.
Kerry has completed a graduate certificate in Aging and Applied Thanatology, and is currently working on a Master of Science in Palliative Care degree from the University of Maryland, which provides the necessary background for specializing in and improving end-of-life care.
From 2017 to 2019, she worked for Allina Health in Faribault and Owatonna to coordinate their dual-community Advance Care Planning program and from 2006 to 2017, she worked in Education at Northfield Hospital & Clinics. Additionally, from 2010-2014 she served on the interdisciplinary team of Northfield Hospice as volunteer coordinator.
Kerry is a 2005 graduate of St. Olaf College with majors in both Philosophy and English.
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