What you need to know about end-of-life planning

Most people in the Miami Valley have not spelled out their wishes for what kind of medical treatment they’d want at the end of their life if they couldn’t speak for themselves.

About 9 to 12 percent of residents in the region have an advanced care directive spelling out what they want, which is less than the national average of about one in three people having the directives.

Ohio’s Hospice, Kettering Health Network and Premier Health have joined together on a pilot program to get more local residents to have these conversations with their family and doctors.

To read more about the pilot program, click here.

RELATED: Ohio owes $29.5M for improper Medicaid bonuses, feds allege

Here’s five things to know about advanced planning:

1. Start with a conversation. 

You don’t have to jump to checking boxes and signing forms. In fact, its best to start with just talking about what your values are, what you believe spiritually and what you consider a good day. Think through what those values would mean if you were sick and needed someone to advocate on your behalf. Have a conversation with the person you’d want to make these decisions as well as your provider so they understand where you stand and what kind of medical treatment you would want.

RELATED: Local hospitals penalized by Medicare for high readmission rates

2. You don’t have to have the conversation alone. 

A trained facilitator in the Dayton area can talk with you one-on-one or with the person you’d like to be your power-of-attorney. To schedule an advanced planning conversation, go to Decidetobeheard.org to pick a time or contact Sarah Hackenbracht at shackenbracht@gdaha.org.

3. After you know what you want, spell it out.

After starting the advanced planning conversation, an advanced directive spells out your choices if you were unable to make decisions for yourself. In Ohio, it comes in two legal forms:

• A living will, which allows you to write down what choices you want for your future medical care.

• A power-of-attorney that lets you choose a person as your Health Care Agent. If you no longer can make your own health care choices, this person will make them for you according to your wishes.

RELATED: High Medicaid, Medicare use in Dayton increases health care costs

4. Don’t wait for a crisis to occur to make a plan.

If you are over 18 years old, the time to talk about your end-of-life wishes is now. You don’t know if you will be suddenly in a car wreck or diagnosed with a terminal illness.

5. The conversation should be an ongoing one.

It’s good to review your advanced care directives every few years or if you experience: the death of a family member or friend, a divorce, become ill with a serious health problem, have a health issue that becomes worse, move to another state or start to spend a lot of time in another state.

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