April 11, 2013

Have you talked with your loved ones about what is important to you regarding end-of-life care, such as whether you would want to be resuscitated if you were terminally ill and your heart stopped beating? Or whether you would want artificial hydration and nutrition if you were terminally ill and couldn’t make health care decisions for yourself?

April is Health Care Decision Month—a time to all of us to reflect on some of the decisions that we or our loved ones might confront around how we die. In keeping with this theme, Healthstyles is focusing its programs this month on how to have the conversations about how we want to die and how to take the legal steps in ensuring that others respect our wishes.

The first program aired last week on WBAI, 99.5 FM (www.wbai.org) and focused on why it’s important to complete an “advance directive” that designates who will make health care decisions for you it you become unable to do so.

The second program airs tonight and focuses on how to actually have the conversation about your health care wishes with someone who will serve as your health care proxy. These are not easy discussions for people who may not be comfortable talking about their own death or the death of a love one. But they are absolutely essential if we want to ensure that someone is acting in our best interests if we become incapacitated.

The third program will air next week and walk you through how to complete an advance directive and health care proxy form, as well as tell you how to make it available to health care providers. But you first have to have the conversation with a loved one.

 

The last program will air on April 25th and will discuss other legal documents related to end-of-life care, such as the POLST—Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment—and the Do Not Resuscitate documents.

For the entire series, Healthstyles producers Barbara Glickstein, RN, MPH, and Diana Mason, RN, PhD, talk with Tina Janssen-Spinosa, JD, Staff Attorney for the New York Legal Assistance Group where she is Program Coordinator for Total Life Choices, an initiative to disseminate information about end of life planning and help people in their planning needs; and Vidette Todaro-Franceschi, RN, PhD, Professor of Nursing at Hunter College, City University of New York, and expert in end of life issues.

Remember that planning for the end of our lives is about planning for how we want to live.

Healthstyles is sponsored by the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College.