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4 Eye-Opening Truths About Advance Care Planning

Have you ever sat down with your parents or loved ones to discuss their healthcare plans? If not, you’re not alone! 

Maybe you “just haven’t gotten around to it” or you’re putting it off because your parents “aren’t that sick”. 

But here’s the kicker –  you and your loved ones can benefit from a conversation even now. 

Here I address 4 common myths that get in the way of having important conversations with your parents about their health and reveal 4 eye-opening truths. 

Myth #1: Advance Care Planning is only about End-of-life

Truth #1: Advance Care Planning is only about End-Of-Life 

It’s a roadmap for how your loved one wants to be cared for AS they age – everything from where they want to live to how they want to live as they get older. 

Often, it involves supporting them in maintaining their independence as long as possible and then problem-solving when they can’t do everything on their own.  And yes it also means planning for their (and your) well-being every step of the way through the end of life. 

Myth #2:  We’ll talk when they’re older or sicker. 

Truth #2 It’s always the right time to start a conversation

It’s so much easier to talk about these things when you and you’re loved ones are not in a medical crisis. Maybe you can go for a walk or grab a cup of coffee with your parents to start the conversation – that way you can ease into the conversation.  

The worst place to START this conversation is in a busy Emergency Room, under the glare of fluorescent lights, with the constant beeping of alarms, when your loved one feels scared. 

Not sure if now is the time? Check out the 5 Tell-Tale signs if just one sign resonates with you, then it’s time to start the conversation.

Myth #3: The future is uncertain, how can I possibly plan for it?!

Truth #3: You can’t predict the future – THAT’s exactly why you want to start the conversation

No one has a glass ball – you can’t plan for each and every situation that may come up – whether that’s a sudden new diagnosis, a fall, or realizing that mom can’t stay home alone anymore. There’s so much you can’t control. 

AND, there’s so much you CAN control. Your parents CAN have a say in HOW they want to be cared for and what’s important to them. You CAN make informed decisions – whether it’s helping your parents stay at home or transition to assisted living, pursuing aggressive treatments or focusing on comfort and hospice. 

You don’t have to be wracked with guilt and uncertainty – you CAN draw upon your prior conversations to guide you. 

Myth #4: Once it’s written, it’s set in stone

Truth: #4: Your parents can change their minds, at ANY time.

Your parent’s wishes are not set in stone – they CAN change, and for most people they do. You’ll want to check in with your parents at least once a year or any time there has been a change in their health or a major event like a move or divorce.  

Bottom line

These conversations aren’t just important – they’re critical. By starting now, you empower yourself and your loved ones to navigate life’s twists and turns with confidence and clarity.

So, what are you waiting for?  

Check out the 5 Tell-Tale Signs and kickstart the conversation today. Trust me; your future selves will thank you for it!

 

Here for you 💖

Ashwini Bapat, MD

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Ashwini Bapat, MD is a board-certified Palliative Care and Hospice Physician, coach, and co-founder of EpioneMD. She completed her Internal Medicine Residency and Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship at Yale University, before working at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She’s devoted to empowering caregivers so that they’re seen, heard, and supported.

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