Advance Care Planning: A Gift for You and Your Family
Sometimes life surprises us. Illnesses are sometimes beyond treatment. But advance care planning is one of the areas of health that patients and families can take control over.
Cliff and Tina Harris’s experiences are an example of that. “We planned on retiring here [in our home] and hoped to live many years, but… that’s not the way life always happens,” says Tina. Her husband Cliff was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. But with the help of advance care planning, Cliff is able to spend most of his days pain-free with loved ones.
“All good lives deserve a good death, and I think that we have to plan,” says Elizabeth Golding, DO, an internal and palliative care medicine provider and the medical director of Cone Health Palliative Care. Advance care planning is aimed improving quality of life for both the patient and family and involves making decisions about end-of-life care.
Although these conversations can be difficult to have, they are important – and care providers like Golding are here to help patients and families talk through these decisions.
“Advance care planning… has no agenda other than the patient’s agenda,” says Golding. “It’s a gift that you give your family, actually.”
Tina says that the advance care plan she and Cliff built together not only strengthened their relationship, but now allows them to live out their dream life in their house together for the rest of Cliff’s days.
“That’s a gift, it’s an art,” continues Tina. “And that has changed our life.”
Advance Directives: Action Steps for You and Your Family
Gene Freeman, MD, continues the conversation with important tips for you and your loved ones about discussing, creating and sharing advance directive documents.