Choice is personal. Just think about the number of personal choices you make every day. You choose what to eat for breakfast, what to wear, the mood you’ll be in, even who you might smile at on the way to work or the grocery store.
In Oregon, we have many personal choices to make in health care. What insurance option should you choose? Which provider or medical specialist should you choose? What are your treatment choices? And finally, what choices do you have if your medical condition is not expected to get better?
At Partners In Care, we know that one of the most important personal choices you’ll make for your health care today is who you will ask speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. This choice or person is called a Health Care Representative. According to the Oregon Health Decisions Planning Guide, this is a person who will have the legal power to make decisions regarding your health care – but only when you are incapable of making those decisions yourself. This could be because you are unconscious, in a coma, in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or are otherwise unable to make your own decisions.
What could be more personal than this important choice? That’s why it is important to make this choice now, while you can still make your own decisions and share them with your Health Care Representative. This person would then serve as your voice in deciding on medical options that you have discussed with them or written down in advance, should you be unable to speak for yourself.
How do you even get started? The person you choose to speak for you would need to know what kinds of decisions you would want them to make and be confident to voice your choices during a medical crisis. Are there any limits on what decision you would want them to make? Do they know what medical treatments you would want or not want in certain medical situations?
There is help navigating these questions. At Partners In Care, we refer our patients to the helpful Key Conversations Planning Guide in the Oregon Health Decisions Pamphlet (www.oregonhealthdecisions.org).
There are many medical scenarios that could present themselves in our lifetime – and the choices are almost overwhelming to think about all at once. That’s why it is so important to have discussions about your philosophy of life and important wishes with someone you trust. It’s a personal choice you can make now.
To learn more about this process or how we can help, visit partnersbend.org or contact us at 541-382-5882.
Lorie Weber is the Outreach Director at Partners In Care, Central Oregon’s only independent, non-hospital based, not-for-profit hospice, home health and palliative care organization. For more information, visit www.partnersbend.org.