Saturday, April 16th was National Health Care Decisions Day, focusing on the importance of planning your care decisions in advance.
Kim Callinan, president and CEO of Compassion & Choices, which works to improve patients’ rights and advocates for individual choice at the end of life, said a growing number of older Americans have dementia diagnoses, which underscores the need to think ahead.
“One in two seniors now die with or from dementia and unfortunately, most are not planning for what the end might look like,” Callinan pointed out. “Without planning, you’re leaving your loved ones and caregivers having to make just heart-wrenching decisions about the care you receive or do not receive at life’s end.”
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According to a report from the Alzheimer’s Association, Washington state has the ninth highest number of Alzheimer’s disease death rates in the country.
Callinan noted the increased rate of dementia is partly the result of advances in medicine prolonging life, reducing deaths from diseases like pneumonia and influenza. However, she said end-of-life care also can include serious interventions — like C-P-R, which can break ribs, or intubation — which might only make sense for someone who is healthy.
“But for somebody in a state of advanced dementia or has a terminal illness, you’re subjecting yourself to aggressive interventions that are not likely to prolong your life, but will prolong your suffering,” Callinan contended.
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Compassion & Choices has a Dementia Values and Priorities Tool online which allows people to identify the point at which they would like to forgo treatments and allow a natural death to take place.
Callinan added it can be especially valuable for people who want to document their care preferences.
“For National Health Care Decisions Day, I would encourage everyone to have conversations with your loved ones about the care that you would want at the end of life,” Callinan urged.
Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He’s also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser, and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.
The above article was provided by Washington News Service. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.