5 Questions to ask about your health journey in 2020
Patient-centered care – putting the patient and the family at the heart of every decision and empowering them to take control of their health journey – is a fundamental value at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care. The key is open communication and an ongoing dialogue between patients, families, and the healthcare team.
To have more productive dialogues about your health journey in 2020, here are five questions to consider asking yourself and your healthcare team.
1. What matters most to me?
Hospice and palliative care is a holistic approach to end-of-life care which focuses on quality of life and treats the person rather than the disease. So, while it might seem natural to ask your doctor, “What’s the matter with me?” – a question about your illness – instead think about asking, “What matters most to me?” Use your reflections as a jumping-off point for conversations with your doctor.
This is a question about your very human experience. Asking it helps you and your hospice team set goals of care and shape your health journey.
Nearing the end of life, some people might want to reunite with a long-lost friend or live in comfort long enough to reach a milestone occasion such as a family wedding. Others might turn to their faith for spiritual nourishment. And some may want to have a special experience or try things they’ve never done before like going up in a hot air balloon (possible through Crossroads’ Gift of a Day program).
Your team of hospice professionals – medical directors, nurses, chaplains, and social workers – is ready to partner with you and address all aspects of your care.
2. What will my final days be like for me and my loved ones?
This may be a difficult question to ask, but it’s an important one. For someone with a life-limiting illness, it’s natural to ask how much time is left. It’s normal to be concerned about pain. Some people fear they will die alone while others may wish to.
Now is the time for you and your loved ones to have open, honest discussions with your doctor and hospice team so they can ensure that all of your physical, medical, spiritual, and emotional needs are met. Having a good understanding of what to expect in the final months and weeks of life can bring welcomed peace of mind.
3. How can I prepare mentally, spiritually, and emotionally in my final days?
It is natural to take stock of one’s life as the end of the journey nears. Many people find themselves reflecting on existential questions such as: “Who am I? How have I lived my life? Did I make a difference in the lives of others?”
Hospice specialists know that as people approach the end of life, powerful and complex emotions often surface. The physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of one’s nature are all interconnected, and balancing them is the goal of hospice care.
All members of your Crossroads hospice team contribute to caring for your emotional and physical well-being – and hospice chaplains lead the care of your human spirit. They can help you work through these emotions and questions to reach spiritual and emotional peace and comfort.
4. Do I need a living will?
Hospice specialists widely recommend advance directives. Many people find great value and peace of mind in preparing an advance directive to ensure their final wishes are met.
An advance directive is a legal document that spells out one’s end-of-life wishes. It has two parts: a living will, which states the type and extent of medical treatment one does and does not want to receive at the end of life; and a healthcare proxy, or medical power of attorney, which names a person to ensure a patient’s healthcare wishes are followed and advocate for one who is no longer able to make his or her own care-related decisions.
Your hospice team can help with resources for creating an advance directive or updating an existing one.
5. Have I asked all the right questions?
This may be the simplest, yet most important question to ask your doctor. Asking it gives your doctor the opportunity to guide your health journey conversations in new directions you may not have explored yet and which ultimately may help ensure all of your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are being fully met. Good communication between you, your loved ones, and your healthcare team helps ensure that you are living life on your own terms, according to the values and wishes most sacred to you.
To learn more about Crossroads’ mission to provide patient-centered care, call us at 1-888-564-3405.
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