Last week I shared that as of April 19, 2020, there were 112 long-term care homes in Ontario impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks and as of April 26, there are now 147 facilities affected with 654 confirmed resident deaths. This number is staggering.
What I do understand is that many of these individuals are dying without their families close by. What I am not sure about is how many had advance directives available to the hospital staff.
In addition to my direct work with families, I enjoy doing presentations on healthy aging and caregiving. Someone asked me this week what is one takeaway I leave with the audience and my response is “ ensuring that the important paper work gets discussed and completed”. Important paperwork for me includes ensuring that powers of attorney are in place as well as advanced directives- which outlines how one wants to live, until they die.
Recent studies indicate that while “92% of Americans say it’s important to discuss their wishes for end-of-life care, only 32% have had such a conversation. 95% of Americans say they would be willing to talk about their wishes, and 53% even say they’d be relieved to discuss it (The Conversation Project National Survey, 2018).
While readers of this blog know about the importance of powers of attorney- many of the clients that I meet with have not appointed an attorney for personal care. Even fewer have had a conversation with their families about end of life care. Now with this pandemic, the time is now to have this conversation.
The Conversation Project is a “public engagement initiative with a goal that is both simple and transformative: to have every person’s wishes for end-of-life care expressed and respected.”
They have created some very helpful and empowering guides to assist individuals think about these questions, reflect what is right for them and help guide the conversation with their family members. One guide has been designed especially for family members with dementia.
The time to have this discussion is now before one ends up in the hospital. With Covid-19 eagerly taking older victims, please don’t wait.