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Advance care planning gives your family the gift of peace of mind

Advance care planning gives your family the gift of peace of mind
August 26
13:33 2020

By Sharena Conner 

Consider this scenario: Three siblings (sisters) receive news that their mother has had a heart attack and has been admitted into the hospital with major blockages in her heart. The doctor presented the three women with two possible outcomes: The first was surgery to insert stints and repair other damages to their mother’s heart. However, the possible side effects were severe memory loss, or they could lose their mother. The second scenario was a heart transplant (which was not likely to happen due to their mother’s age and the long wait list). These were extremely difficult decisions and the siblings were not in agreement on their mother’s plan for her heart or what her wishes were in the event she did not make it through the surgery. Fortunately, the mother had completed an Advance Care Plan and assigned her oldest granddaughter with the task of fulfilling her wishes for her care or in the event of her death. The mother, while being of sound mind, decided to not have the surgery because losing her memory was far greater a loss than living out the rest of her days comfortable with her family that she loved so much. When the time came, the oldest granddaughter followed her grandmother’s wishes exactly as she had written on her Advance Care Plan. In the end, the daughters were able to focus on their mother without the stress of making difficult decisions or plans during and after their mother’s end-of-life journey.  

The purpose of me sharing this true story is to encourage and promote the importance of completing an Advance Care Plan (Living Will/Healthcare Power of Attorney).  I understand that the conversation about death and dying in the African American culture can be difficult at times due to our religious beliefs (“God will take care of us” … and I believe that to be true) or the extreme mistrust we continue to have with our medical providers (Yes, there have been horrible things done to minorities in the name of science).  

However, the conversation about our end-of-life journey needs to be fluid and consistent among us, now more than ever. We all hope to one day be in a place that is far greater than we can imagine, but we also need to provide peace and comfort for the family and close friends we may be leaving behind on this earth. Our spouse, siblings, children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren, will have a sense of security knowing that “you,” their loved one, has completed an Advance Care Plan.  

When an ACP (Advance Care Plan) is in place, it also allows family and friends to be more supportive and focus on the precious time you have with each other. Amid COVID-19, it is imperative that we all have our documents in order, that we have the conversations with our families and close friends about our wishes when the time comes for us to take that journey. Whether it is one person or five that you trust to carry out your wishes, make completing your Advance Care Plan a priority.  

There are a few local agencies that can help you complete these documents for free and provide resources for information on end-of-life care. Please contact Tina Ketchie Stearns via email tina@nullitsabouthowyoulive.com, by phone at 336-655-0200, or visit her website at www.itsabouthowyoulive.com. The ACP documents can be obtained atTrellis Supportive Care by contacting 1-888-876-3663 or visiting the website www.gotplans123.org. 

Sharena Conner  is a native of Winston-Salem and has worked in the healthcare system for many years. She is passionate about educating others on Advance Care Planning. Sharena has one daughter, Stephanie, who lives in Charlotte. Sharena enjoys working out, reading, and horseback riding.

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