CLEVELAND, April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National debate about health care reform is focusing new attention on advance directives and the decisions people make in the final stage of life. Surveys show people believe it's important to talk to their families about their wishes. However, few have had the conversation. Hospice of the Western Reserve, a nationally recognized non-profit agency with 35 years of service in Northern Ohio, is hoping to change that by providing tools to get the conversation started.
"Few people think twice about getting life insurance. We should be thinking about advance directives in the same way -- as personal care insurance for our future," suggested Bill Finn, Chief Executive Officer. "The best way to make sure wishes are carried out is to put them in writing. And the best time to do that is while you are still healthy."
Hospice of the Western Reserve offers the following tips:
- Put your wishes in writing – A booklet called "Courage in Conversation" includes all the legal documents required by the State of Ohio, including Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney forms. A worksheet walks through the process step-by-step. The guide is available at no cost by calling 216-383-2222. It can also be downloaded at http://www.hospicewr.org/plan. Legal requirements vary by state. Advance directives for other states can be downloaded at www.caringinfo.org.
- Pick the right time for your talk - Consider bringing up the subject when you have a "captive audience," such as a long car ride. You might say: "This isn't easy for me to talk about. I know it's hard for you to think about, too… But it's important to my peace of mind."
- Ask a family member for help – Saying, "I need your help with something" can be a good way to break the ice. Explain that you don't want to burden them with difficult decisions later.
- Share a story about someone else - It could be someone you know, or have heard about whose wishes were not known, like the national case several years ago that led to a painful legal battle between family members. Discussing someone other than yourself will make the conversation less scary and may encourage them to open up.
- Share information in small segments - Allow time for family members to digest the information. Don't rush things. Realistically, you will probably need several discussions. Remember, your goal right now is simply to start the process.
CONTACT: Laurie Henrichsen, 216-502-4460, LHenrichsen@HospiceWR.org
SOURCE Hospice of the Western Reserve