Senior Scene April 10, 2017

It is the time of year for my annual column on National Advance Care Planning (ACP) Day which will be April 16, 2017.  This year’s “Speak Up” ACP Day 2017 campaign’s theme is “My Community.”  The material and resources in this year’s campaign tool kit will remind individuals to think about the people in their community and suggest ways to have conversations about their future health care and decide on a Substitute Decision Maker(s).

Advance Care Planning is a process of reflection and communication. It is a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let people know what kind of health and personal care you would want in the future if you were unable to speak for yourself. It means having discussions with family and friends, especially your Substitute Decision Maker – the person who will speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. It may also include writing down your wishes, and talking with healthcare providers and financial or legal professionals.  It is about how we care for each other.

Everyone has a community of care – the people we help, and the people we depend on for help. But if you became ill, became mentally incapable and could not speak for yourself, would your family, friends and community know your wishes?  Do they know who would speak for you? April 16th, National Advance Care Planning Day, is the perfect time to think about these things.
Advance care planning is thinking about your wishes for future care and talking about them with your Substitute Decision Maker(s), someone who will speak for you and make medical decisions if you cannot speak for yourself because you are mentally incapable. It is also important to share your wishes with others who can support your Substitute Decision Maker(s), such as family members, friends and your community.
The Advance Care Planning in Ontario Speak Up website,, has free, downloadable resources for advance care planning, including workbooks, videos, wallet cards and conversation starters, as well as resources and information about the legal requirements for Ontario. The website also features a toolkit for healthcare organizations and health professionals who wish to mark National Advance Care Planning Day with an event or activity.
Talking with your Substitute Decision Maker(s) is essential, but it is also important to talk with others who can support your Substitute Decision Maker(s) during a stressful time. “Research shows that advance care planning significantly reduces stress and anxiety for those who are making medical decisions for others,” says ACP National Project Director Louise Hanvey.  “You can reduce that stress and manage potential conflicts about your care by telling your community — your family, close friends and health team — what is important to you.”
National ACP Day just happens to fall on Easter Sunday this year, a time when many people are surrounded by their friends and family.  While starting the ACP conversation around the dinner table may not be ideal, it is an opportune time.  Happy Easter everyone!
Announcement:  On May 3rd, Community Care for South Hastings will be hosting a 55 Alive Driver Refresher training course with certified instructor, Dave Short.  The course runs from 9 am to 4 pm and the fee of $35 includes your workbook, certificate and lunch.  Call 613-969-0130 to register.  A former participant says: “Driving helps me keep my independence – 55 Alive helps me protect it.”