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Having 'the talk' about advance care planning

Cari Hoffmann is Fraser Health project implementation coordinator for Advance Care Planning, who will be leading ‘Your Choice, Your Life: Having Conversations About End-of-Life Wishes’ at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Friday, Sept. 14 - Fraser Health photo
Cari Hoffmann is Fraser Health project implementation coordinator for Advance Care Planning, who will be leading ‘Your Choice, Your Life: Having Conversations About End-of-Life Wishes’ at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Friday, Sept. 14
— image credit: Fraser Health photo

It’s an important conversation some people wait too long to have.

Chilliwack Hospice Society presents an advance care planning workshop ‘Your Choice, Your Life: Having Conversations About End-of-Life Wishes’ at the Cultural Centre in the Rotary Hall Studio Theatre on Friday, Sept. 14.

“We hope this workshop is a starting point for people to have conversations with each other about planning future healthcare decisions,” said workshop coordinator Cari Hoffmann.

It's the first in a community education series on life, love, loss and death.

Hoffmann is the Fraser Health project implementation coordinator for Advance Care Planning, who will be presenting along with Dr. Ron Bull, Chilliwack Hospice palliative care team physician, and Ed Kaye, barrister with Waterstone Law Group LLP.

“We have this perception that people don’t want to talk about this, but research and my experience doing this work in the community shows that in fact they do,” she said.

Many may be waiting for their family physicians to raise the topic with them, or they may be hesitant to burden their adult children with it. So they hold off on it.

“As a society, we do live as if death is an option,” Hoffmann quipped, citing the unrealistic images on medical-themed TV shows.

This session in Chilliwack on Friday is a chance to solidify those types of values and wishes in a plan.

“It’s really a chance to review what you value deeply in life; what makes you happy,” Hoffmann said.

From the various forms and stages of medical intervention in the event the someone is incapable of offering consent or refusal, to specific wishes reflecting spiritual preferences and values, it comes down to who would make the decisions in which specific situations.

It could cover preferences about CPR or mechanical ventilation, for example, and ultimately determine who will be the “substitute decision maker.”

Research has shown that this kind of planning reduces stress, depression and anxiety in family members and caregivers who know the wishes of loved ones and can act with confidence on their behalf.

“The challenge of advance care planning is that the list of medical situations goes on forever, and you could never anticipate every possible situation. But if we ground the conversation in values and beliefs, it becomes clearer.”

They may change their minds about intervention issues, but not their personal values, such as the desire to have meaningful conversations with grandchildren.

“It’s also about choosing who would make those decisions, and which ones we would they make.”

The sessions are for everyone from healthy adults, those with chronic illnesses and those in the end-of-life stages.

It’s not just about end of life.

“Fraser Health is a leader in this area. We’ve always framed it in broader terms.”

For more event details chilliwackculturalcentre.ca/event/hospice/or contact Colleen Rush at 604-795-4660 ext. 224. The event runs 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Details about Advance Care Planning in BC visit the SeniorsBC website – http://www.seniorsbc.ca/legal/healthdecisions/

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/CHWKjourno

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