During Your Health Matters we're focusing on advance care planning and what it means for someone who faces a life threatening situation. The idea centers around having someone speak for you if you're unable to because of severe neurological trauma or your simply unable to based on your health.
"My father and I had a very good conversation once, it was about 10 years ago. We were sitting at the dinning room table and he said, 'When it's my time, I just want to go,' " says Jeanie Aloia, a registered nurse with Munson Medical Center. It's a memory Aloia will never forget. Being a registered nurse, her father always looked to her for medical advice, and ultimately turned to her about a very personal issue.
"I think we all dread this conversation. A patient told me one time, everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die to get there. I think that's the conundrum we face," says Aloia.
The conversation Aloia had with her dad was simple yet direct. He was telling her the type of care he wanted and trusted in her to carry it out.
"He just really wanted quality of life. He knew that I understood that he wanted the end of his life to be simple and not dramatic because that's not how he was," says Aloia.
This concept called advance care planning gives people the ability to have a voice for them when they reach a point in life, when they can no longer speak for themselves as a direct result of their health. "It's the ability given to us by the law to name the kinds of medical treatment that we want or don't want ahead of time. ACP allows you to name a person who will use your values and your judgment and make the right decisions for you," says Jane Dinnen, the advance care planning coordinator for Munson Medical Center.
Dinnen recommends The Five Wishes. It's a simple booklet that an adult 18 years or older can fill out with specific requests should they face a life threatening situation.
"The thing that happens most to healthy adults that makes us need an advance directive are things that impact our brain. So, if you had a sudden neurological injury that might be from a car accident or skiing accident," says Dinnen.
For Jeannie Aloia, she says this type of planning involved the simple conversation with her father years ago, and she and her siblings kept his request in mind ever since.
"It's a relief to have that kind of guidance...make it light hearted even though it's serious and most have thought about it and are ready to talk about it," says Aloia.
When the day did come for Aloia to speak for her dad, she respected his final request.
"I simply told the doctor, my dad doesn't want anything heroic. He wanted hospice and i could read his heart monitor was getting slower and slower and I knew he was about to go. It was all very natural and comfortable," says Aloia.
For more information on advance care planning and the Five Wishes booklets that are available at Munson Medical Center registration desks click here.