Relationships and Resources in Care Planning

Wy Woods Harris, NPAF volunteer from Memphis, writes about her role as a caregiver for her family and how that led her to be an advocate for care planning.

In this season of accepting change, there is a renewed focus and it is being intentional in caring. There are several assignments that play an important role in taking care of my family as well as myself.

I recently celebrated my seventy-fifth birthday with family. While some of the celebration was virtual, some of the family were able to visit me. During this time, the conversation turned to the present situation of Covid-19. It was a perfect time to discuss care planning with my children, grandchildren and even in the presence of my great grandchild.

I have given my backup person, as well as my alternate backup person, copies of my wishes and I remind them to refer to the forms that I have given them. Sometimes I can see the reaction of my bringing it up again. I assure them that is important to my wellness and to decrease their level of anxiety in the event they have to share my wishes and requests in making decisions.

I have been in the role of survivor, caregiver and advocate for more than fifty years. These roles are integral to my way of living and I want to use them as leverage to help others understand the priority of choosing people who will respect my wishes.

I am fortunate to have my primary care physician of more than forty years so I had no problem sharing my care plan with him. He is familiar with my request and I made sure that his staff had copies of my wishes as well. This line of communication is one of the key factors in having my wishes honored.

Today I am writing as we continue to ease our way back into community activities. We can say that we have made decisions about life and death and we have conveyed our wishes and have asked others to do the same. The struggle we have found ourselves in dealing with COVID-19 is lessened when we are able to use our care planning resources.

I have had two life changing experiences in the past six months: the death of my husband and the stroke of my youngest daughter. I am glad we had conversations about what would happen in the event we are faced with a life and death situation. Thank goodness I was able to say to the health professionals that we had completed our living wills and I had copies with me during my husband’s hospital admission.

The conclusion of the matter is that we help each other learn who and what is important in care planning. We all can work together as advocates to make our piece of the world a better place.