Have you ever thought about your future healthcare decisions and how you want to die? If you’re like most Canadians, the answer is probably not. Maybe you think it’s morbid to even consider what your end of life wishes will be. But it’s actually a good idea to sit down and start asking yourself some tough questions and then sharing your wishes with your family and friends.
April 16th is National Advance Care Planning Day and I am really stoked about it. If you’re not really sure what advance care planning is here’s a simple explanation. Advance care planning involves thinking about what kind of end-of-life treatments you want (or don’t want), appointing someone to be your power of attorney for personal care, and making sure that your wishes are known. Many people think about end-of-life care simply in terms of requiring resuscitation but there are so many other situations to consider. Whether it’s regarding feeding tubes, ventilators, or aggressive and painful forms of treatment, filling out an advance care planning kit is a good way to start thinking about what kind of medical interventions you are and aren’t willing to endure at the end of your life.
It’s also important to note that appointing a power of attorney for personal care can also help you to make sure that your wishes for your funeral arrangements are respected. I talk about funerals a lot (obviously) and most people have the mistaken belief that funeral plans are included in a will. They are not. A will is all about distribution of your property (for example if I die before my brother, I want him to have my record collection) and care for any minor dependents you have. But again, if you take the time to appoint someone as your power of attorney for personal care, you can also include wishes for your funeral so that your family isn’t left scrambling and wondering what kind of service you want.
Now I know you might be thinking that this is all too much and you don’t even know where to get started but that’s why I’m here! Dying With Dignity Canada is a great website with a ton of resources but most importantly they offer an Ontario specific guide to advance care planning that you can download and print right here (for other provinces see this page). You can also download a power of attorney booklet right here. From there it’s very simple. Just appoint the person you want to be your power of attorney, both of you sign your copies and have them signed by two witnesses. Make sure that everyone knows where you are keeping your papers (it’s better to make them easily accessible versus keeping them in a locked box). And that’s it! It takes just a few minutes and is a huge step toward ensuring that whatever happens to you in the future, your wishes are met. If you want a straightforward video that outlines these steps, check out this clip from my personal death idol, Caitlin Doughty.
And there you have it! Thinking about your impending death is not always easy but just remember that by making your wishes known (and appointing a power of attorney to ensure they are carried out) you are showing love and care for your family.