Local events can help families prepare for, talk about healthcare wishes
FREMONT – Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial is shining a spotlight on the importance of educating people about expressing their healthcare wishes through preemptive planning by offering what are known as advanced care planning sessions. The sessions are free to the public and will be held at multiple locations throughout Newaygo County, starting Oct. 1.
“Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial looks forward to providing this free service as part of our effort to empower our community with as much healthcare information as possible, and that includes raising awareness about how important it is to clearly identify the wishes of people and their advocates, who will ensure those wishes are respected,” said Stephanie Kooistra, community health program specialist who will be leading the advanced care planning sessions. “Everyone should be thinking about the kind of life they want to live, especially as they age, and we can’t always plan for the unexpected. What doesn’t always happen are communications and conversation between a person and their advocate about decisions affecting their future medical care. Through our free advance care planning program, Gerber Memorial is encouraging people to have those conversations as a key step toward more peace of mind.”
The sessions, which all start at 10:30 a.m., are scheduled at:
The sessions will help people identify their wishes in anticipation of moments when they can’t communicate their healthcare wishes themselves. The sessions will also help people better discuss the scope of care and treatment that should be honored and executed by that person’s advocate, who could be anyone from a spouse to a relative to a friend – anyone who the client believes is most likely to uphold their wishes.
“Whoever that person is, you have to be able to trust and know they’ll follow your wishes,” Kooistra said. said. “If it’s a close relative, it may be hard because they may not want to withhold treatment. They may want the person to stay around longer but that could affect the patient’s quality of life.”
Kooistra said some people can identify their wishes and find a resolution in one conversation. Others may take more. She said advance directives are important, even when a person has a will.