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Advance Care Planning for End of Life Care: Lessons Learned

12 Mar 2018 3:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

With gratitude to Marilyn Warlick for this sharing


If you had a serious accident or illness, would your family know what medical interventions you wanted? Would they be able to ensure that your wishes are met?


Recently FCM members gathered for a class on Advance Care Planning to address these questions and other topics that relate to our personal values and wishes for end of life care. The class was sponsored by Empath Choices for Care and led by social worker and hospice counselor, Arwyn Elden. While not a subject that normally rouses a lot of enthusiasm, it was well attended by our community in-person and on livestream and a number of our members wrote to us to let us know how valuable the class had been for them.


In the class Arwyn shared numerous examples of unexpected deaths from accidents and surprising diagnoses. Through these stories we were helped to realize that the time and means of our death is uncertain. We were reminded with kindness for ourselves and our families of the importance of filling out an Advance Care Planning Document (also called a Living Will) and establishing a Health Care Surrogate.  These tools and lots of conversations (deep sharing and listening) will help prepare ourselves and loved ones for our death in regards to medical care and decisions that might need to be made if we are unable to speak for ourselves.

Four important points were presented in the class: 1- this is a process which includes assessing your values to determine our wishes at the end of life, 2- the importance of initiating the essential conversations with loved ones about quality of life and goals of care in regard to medical decision-making, 3- educating ourselves on and selecting a health-care surrogate, and 4- completing and utilizing a living will.


As a community of Buddhist practitioners we want to continue to increase our awareness of impermanence and the inevitability of death. We know how valuable it is to use available tools such as those presented in this class and to have intimate and informed conversations with each other and with our loved ones about the realities of our deaths and health care decisions that may need to be made. You will find valuable resources on the Empath Health website  at  https://empathhealth.org/the-gift-of-advance-care-planning/ and of course that are lots of other resources online and in our local communities.


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