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It’s in the cards: Talking about Advance Medical Directives

Do you freeze up when someone mentions “the end of life" or "advance planning?” Few are comfortable with the topic. Estimates are that more than 60 percent of older adults do not have an advance directive in place that expresses their wishes regarding end-of-life care.

Academic researcher Dr. Lauren Van Scoy sought ways to get individuals thinking about the serious issue in a lighter way. She started studying whether a card game, My Gift of Grace, could get the conversation started and later prompt action.

 

Positive findings in small studies

Van Scoy explained her findings at the American Thoracic Society conference held in Denver. For the studies, she recruited strangers to sit in circles and play the games. The game consists of a deck of 42 cards with questions ranging from heavy – “what do you want your doc to focus on more, quality or quantity of life?” – to light – “what kind of music do you want played at your funeral?”

She found that the game succeeded in getting complete strangers as well as families to think about death in ways prompting laughs rather than dread. Then, 74 percent of the participants went on to complete an advance-care planning activity within 10 weeks.

What legal documents do you need in Colorado?

Advance medical directives appoint a trusted individual (a surrogate) to make decisions about medical treatments and procedures when you are no longer able. The two important documents are the:

  • Living Will and
  • Medical Durable Power of Attorney

If you suffer an illness or accident that leaves you incapacitated before completing an advance medical directive, the court may have to appoint a guardian who will make decisions for you. Once you get the conversation started, speak with an attorney who can help draft these important documents and answer your specific questions.

Source: Modern Healthcare, “Preparing for the end – it’s in the cards,” May 23, 2015

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