September is Healthy Aging Month. Healthy Aging Month was created to empower people over the age of 45 to take charge of their lives, their health, and their passions. This is not just about eating right and getting exercise. It is also about planning ahead. This includes planning for your end of life care. It can be hard to do, but creating an Advance Care Plan could save you and your loved one’s stress and time should you develop a palliative illness or become unexpectedly incapacitated. Learn more about healthy aging and advance care planning in this week's podast.
About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups. All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.
Hospice Quinte serves a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.Support the show (https://hospicequinte.ca/donate/)
September is Healthy Aging Month. Healthy Aging Month was created to empower people over the age of 45 to take charge of their lives, their health, and their passions. This is not just about eating right and getting exercise. It is also about planning ahead. This includes planning for your end of life care. It can be hard to do, but creating an Advance Care Plan could save you and your loved one’s stress and time should you develop a palliative illness or become unexpectedly incapacitated.
What is a palliative illness? A palliative illness is a chronic or life-limiting disease. Examples are certain forms of cancer, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and various heart diseases. These illnesses are incurable and therefore the goal of care is not a cure, but providing quality of life. What palliative care seeks to do is respond to and manage physical and emotional symptoms and stresses related to the illness.
At Hospice Quinte, we come in contact with people on a daily basis who are suffering from palliative illnesses. What significantly helps those suffering from a palliative illness and their families is creating an Advance Care Plan. One purpose of an Advance Care Plan is to confirm a substitute decision maker. This is someone that will make decisions on your behalf about your care should you become unable to do so. The second purpose is to outline your values, beliefs, preferences, and wishes for your care. This serves as a guide for your substitute decision maker, again, should you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. For example, an Advance Care Plan will outline how you wish to receive palliative care, should that become necessary.
Why is an Advance Care Plan important? Before a health care provider can provide you with care, they require informed consent, except in emergency situations or to reduce suffering. This means that before care can be provided, you need to be informed of your illness and what care options are available to you, as well as their benefits, risks, side effects, what refusal will mean, and any alternatives for care.
But what happens if you are unable to speak or understand for yourself this information due to a reduced mental capacity, whether from a palliative illness or from an unexpected accident or stroke? A substitute decision maker steps in to make the decision for you. If you have not determined who this substitute decision maker will be the person that is of closest relationship to you, based on the Substitute Decision Maker Hierarchy as outlined in Ontario’s Health Care Consent Act, will decide based on their preferences for your care.
If you haven’t chosen a substitute decision maker in advance, this can be stressful for both you and your designated substitute decision maker. Not completing an Advance Care Plan impacts you because you are less likely to receive the care that you wish to receive and the person selected to make decisions about your care may not be the best person to fill that role. This oversight also impacts your substitute decision maker because they may not know what kind of care you would like to receive and may not feel comfortable or prepared to fill that role. Being without an Advance Care Plan is not an ideal situation for you or your loved ones.
At Hospice Quinte, we highly recommend that no matter what age you are and no matter what level of health, that you age in a healthy way by starting the conversation about Advance Care Planning with your loved ones. We cannot always predict when we may need to use our Advance Care plan. Visit the “Speak Up Ontario” website to find a workbook that leads you through this conversation and helps you create your own Advance Care Plan.
If you wish, include in your Advance Care Plan if you would like to receive hospice care for your final days should you be diagnosed with a palliative illness. Hospice Quinte will have a fully operational hospice by fall 2021 and will be able to provide end-of-life palliative care for those in their final days. We also offer a visiting volunteer service for palliative patients who need extra support or whose caregivers need extra support.
Since 1985, Hospice Quinte has been changing the lives of the terminally ill, their families, and the bereaved for the better by offering support and companionship through visiting hospice services and support groups. All Hospice Quinte services are provided at no charge by compassionate and well-trained volunteers and staff. Our service area includes Belleville, Quinte West, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. As a charitable not-for-profit organization, Hospice Quinte relies on its relationships with individuals, business, and charitable foundations in the community. Without the generosity of our donors, Hospice Quinte’s work could not be possible.