If you’re anything like me, when you pay for something, you want all the available bang for your buck! No where is this more true than when it comes to medical care, because after all, nothing we own is more precious than our health, and without it, everything else suffers.
Medicare dictates and drives much of the healthcare system here in the US because it pays for so much. And when it changes the way it does things, or adds benefits or coverage, the nation watches. That’s why it always surprises me when I learn that a person who is on Medicare benefits doesn’t know about a new covered benefit intended to make end of life care easier and better!
For the cost of a Medicare participant’s co-pay, she or he may see their doctor to discuss end of life care choices! Now I know that not everyone is as excited as I am about this benefit because many of us would like to avoid thinking about our final days, and I understand. But like the creator of “Death Cafe”, Jon Underwood said, “Just as talking about sex will not make you pregnant, talking about death will not make you die”.
But for the sake of those who are still a little put off by the subject, let’s discuss something most of us enjoy talking about. Imagine with me, if you will, that you want to take a big vacation. You start dreaming about where you will go and with whom you will travel. You decide that having a comfortable place to stay will make the experience more pleasant and having good service will really make it nice. If you prepare and plan well, you feel sure that the trip will not only be very pleasurable, but the chances are better that you will make great memories that can last a lifetime.
What you would be doing in this scenario is similar to discussing end of life with your doctor. Wait! Don’t be so quick to push back on this thought! If your life were a book–and in many ways it is–your dream vacation would be one of many chapters. Similar to your college days, or the years you raised your family, or the era of your career.
So too will be the last days, weeks or months of your life. A chapter–a very meaningful chapter in deed. And just like that wonderful vacation, your last chapter will benefit from planning and preparing. Making an appointment with your doctor to plan for this very important event will not only change the experience you will have, but so too will it change the experience for all those loved ones who will be there with you.
But before you call your doctor for the appointment, call me first. As wonderful as your doctor may be, she will likely spend no more than about fifteen minutes with you, so having an idea about what medical care you would want at end of life will make the visit go a little smoother and be “time wise”. For most of us, making choices about end of life care can be a little like ordering a meal without a menu. I will help you learn what your choices are, so that you will be prepared to express them to your doctor.