A Message from Samaritan Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Goldfine
At the beginning of each year, many people make New Year’s resolutions as a way to improve their lives in the upcoming year. Historically, the most popular resolutions are health-related including exercising more, losing weight, and eating better. These are all important resolutions! However, there is another resolution that is also important for you and your family’s health and wellbeing – talking about, and writing down, your healthcare wishes.
It is an easy conversation to postpone as you focus on diet and exercise. You think you have all the time in the world, only to find yourself short of time, energy, and the proper resources when you, or your loved one, need it most. Sadly, I see this happen a lot because no one wants to talk about what matters most to them when they are living with illness and facing mortality.
By avoiding these topics, you can lose control of having your wishes honored if your illness or injury suddenly makes you unable to speak for yourself.
Therefore, I encourage you to use the New Year to reflect on your healthcare wishes and the importance of advance care planning. Have conversations about it with your family – preferably now around the kitchen table, rather than later in the ICU during a crisis.
I have these sensitive discussions with patients and families every day. My conversations always begin with these questions: How do you define quality of life? What personal and cultural values make life worth living for you? What are your goals for the care you choose to receive—or not receive?
When I listen and learn what matters most, I can then work on a care plan and choices that are reasonable for them. Only then, can I hope to honor their wishes, and help them achieve physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort for each stage of the journey.
I understand it is hard to find the right time so that is why I encourage you to use the new year as a reason to start this important conversation.
To help, Samaritan offers complimentary copies of Five Wishes, a legal, easy-to-follow advance directive. Visit Samaritan’s website, SamaritanNJ.org, today to get your copy and give the gift of peace of mind and better healthcare outcomes to your family this year.