Take Charge of Your Health - Advance Directives

The Ultimate Gift
The nature of things dictates we must leave those dear to us.
Everything born contains its own cessations. 

A Gift from the Heart                                                       

Remember the old joke: What's black and white and red all over? This time, instead of the newspaper, the response is a gift that only you can give. It is a gift from the heart, and, just like the lace doilie and construction paper valentines of our youth, it costs nothing.

The mystery gift is really not such a mystery; it is the gift of taking time to think about, and then to share, what your wishes are as they relate to your end of life. As one of the only two things in life that is certain, making your wishes known is time well spent. Ultimately, it is a very important and loving gift not only to others, but to yourself as well.

Most of us are not physicians, nurses or lawyers, but there are numerous resources for us to follow. The internet is full of state specific forms called Advanced Directives, Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) or Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST.) Completing one of these forms helps us refine our wishes. Some decisions will be easier than others; perhaps the question of being tethered to a respirator while in a coma is straightforward, while other issues like the question of a feeding tube or dialysis may be more convoluted. We owe it to ourselves and to our loved ones to begin the process, because ignoring these questions does not make them go away. The Health-E³ website has additional information and can help provide you with important clarification.

The loss of a loved one is a sad time, but grief can be lessened by the knowledge that death was not prolonged by undesired procedures. The adage "just because we can, doesn't mean we should," takes on a particular relevance when talking about the technological capabilities of modern medicine. Each of us has a responsibility to consider and choose wisely about our end of life wishes and leave clear instruction of how you want to live.

As we approach Valentine's Day with its reminder of love for those who are important to us, consider alleviating their sense of confusion, guilt or other angst by clearly transmitting your wishes through a proxy and legal document. Not only will you feel relieved, but down the road those you love most will be relieved as well. 
It’s your health and your life – go ahead, take control and insist on the care you deserve.


Take Charge of Your Health

January 14, 2018
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better, it's not.
-Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Self-Advocacy:  Your Voice Is Important

Although we often cannot choose the level of wellness or the kinds of illness or disease that may affect us during our lifetime, we all have the opportunity to take charge of our health by advocating for ourselves - determining who will care for us, how we want to be treated and what support will be most beneficial to us.
The purpose of our Health-E³ website is to “Educate. Engage. Empower.” because we believe that each of us must be a proactive participant in our health care. We must become better patients. To do so, we must learn to become our own advocate and enter into a relationship with our care providers where we are the center of the team and not standing on the sidelines mindlessly following directions. We need to educate ourselves on wellness, prevention, our conditions, treatment and supportive care options. We need to engage in decision-making as a co-owner of our health with a care team we trust. It is then we will feel empowered and gain a sense of control and confidence.
If we are too ill to be actively involved in our care, then we need to select someone to advocate for us – a close friend or family member who we know will represent our wishes and be our “voice.” A good advocate is someone who is local, knows you well, is organized, assertive, comfortable asking questions, is a good communicator and is willing to dedicate this time to you.
A successful health care journey starts with finding the right team of experts - people who listen, ask pertinent questions, respect our emotions, beliefs, preferences, goals and choices, and truly care about our health. Once the right team is in place, developing strong communication and a relationship with your care team is not a “nice to have,” it is a “must have” to optimize your satisfaction level, your adherence to your health plan and your health outcome. The right information with the right communication are powerful tools for your better health.
To be a strong advocate:

  • Be honest and share your complete health history
  • Talk about how you are currently feeling and all of your circumstances, symptoms or side effects
  • Learn as much as you can about any condition you may have
  • Prepare in advance and ask questions. If you are confused, overwhelmed or if something does not sound right, speak up, feel free to challenge, question and make suggestions to your care team
  • Never hesitate to ask for a second opinion

Remember you are the expert on you. No medical professional will ever have the vast amount of knowledge you have about your own mind and body; you are the only one that possesses that wealth of information. It is essential you advocate for yourself and add your expertise to the medical knowledge of your health care team.
It’s your health and your life – go ahead, take control and insist on the care you deserve.

Sydney Sharek2 Comments