Being Prepared for Your Future Health Care Needs



Most of us live our lives one day at a time, focusing on the good health we and our family members have now. But one day you may be called upon to make health care decisions on behalf of a family member.

What will you say? How will you know you are making the right decision for them?

This is where Advance Care Planning can be helpful. Thinking about the unthinkable is important. It involves talking with your family about what is important to each of you, understanding your values, and how your traditions and culture may impact your health care wishes.

In the unfortunate event that you or someone you love gets sick or has an accident, you will already have had those conversations about what really matters. Your family will be prepared. This can reduce stress and anxiety during an unexpected​ health crisis.

The following is a personal story by Sue Bartnik, practice consultant for serious illness and palliative care with the FNHA​:

When I was around 20 years old, my 83-year-old widowed Auntie called me to her home in a panic. She had fallen and her doctor was on his way for a home visit.

Her heart rate was really low and so the doctor asked me to rush her to the hospital to get a pacemaker. During the excitement of the situation, my Auntie was so happy and appreciative that I was helping her.

“Thank you, you saved my life!" she exclaimed.

Two days later, she looked at me and was so upset. She cried, “What did you do?"

For years, she had been waiting to join her husband, sister and nephew in the spirit world. Why hadn't we paused to discuss if she really wanted a pacemaker?

I learned a lot from that moment. Advance Care Planning conversations would have helped for her wishes to be known and honoured by the healthcare team.

There may come a time, as in the story above, when health care providers will ask your family for someone to be your Substitute Decision Maker. Here are some of the considerations:

  • What decisions would you want your family to make on your behalf?
  • Does your family know your wishes?
  • Do you believe they will be able to make those decisions during stressful times?
  • Have you talked to them about it?
  • Is there someone specifically whom you would want to be your Substitute Decision Maker?

Set a date to connect with your family or close friends and talk about what brings you joy, what a good day looks like, or what really matters to you. It doesn't have to be a heavy conversation. Talk about something you saw on TV or social media, or in your community. Be direct, or invite your family member to look at the Your Care, Your Choices guidebook with you.


For more information or other ideas for you, your family or your community, visit our webpage dedicated to Advance Care Planning:​​

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