EXPRESS YOUR WISHES for end-of-life care on April 16

Don’t wait until it’s too late, says Comox Valley Hospice Society

The Comox Valley Hospice Society is encouraging you to have the talk about your wishes for end-of-life care on April 16.

The Comox Valley Hospice Society is encouraging you to have the talk about your wishes for end-of-life care on April 16 — National Advance Care Planning Day.

“Imagine, one day, without any warning, you find yourself in a hospital in a life-threatening situation, unable to communicate,” says Terri Odeneal, executive director of the Comox Valley Hospice Society.

Advance care planning is a process of reflection and communication about personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care. Your plan may include information about the type of care you would or wouldn’t want, as well as other personal information, such as spiritual preferences or specific wishes for family members or friends.

One of the most important aspects of advance care planning is naming and having a conversation with someone who will speak on your behalf and make decisions for you — but only when you are not able to do so yourself.

Research has shown that advance care planning significantly reduces stress, depression and anxiety in family members and caregivers who know your wishes and can act with confidence on your behalf. An Advance Care Plan is a gift of love.

“As health-care technologies and life saving interventions continue to improve and people live longer, advance care planning becomes increasingly important,” says Audrey Craig, president of the Comox Valley Hospice Society. “That said, none of us know when that unexpected accident may place us in this situation whether we are 20, 60 or 80.

“We need to communicate our feelings around the use of certain procedures at the end of life, and what we believe gives our life meaning. These are personal, individual choices that each of us deserves to have respected. Make sure your voice is heard.”

A new website at www.advancecareplanningcv.ca features a number of tools and resources to help you begin the conversation with your loved ones.

Also available on the website is a listing of coming events about Advance Care Planning in the Comox Valley.

The premiere of Are you Listening To Me?, a humourous and poignant play written by local artist Dandelion, will be performed on April 16 at the Courtenay Little Theatre rehearsal studio on the corner of 17th Street and McPhee Avenue in Courtenay. Doors will open at 7 p.m. with the performance beginning at 7:30.

About her joyful work Dandelion says, “As I reached into the drama of my own family, my work with clients as drama therapist, and also my work with hospice in terms of the bereaved, and those who were actually in the dying process, the play was already in my head.

“When my own mother was dying in 1984, there was no such thing as a living will or an ethics committee in the hospital. It was an excruciating experience, which I will never forget.

“Now I find that theatre can bring some of these issues out in the open, so that people are more inclined to enter into a conversation regarding planning ahead for end-of-life concerns and are more likely to listen to the wishes of their loved ones.”

• • •

On April 18, a collaborative group of people involved in end-of live care will host the showing of the film Consider the Conversation” at North Island College’s Stan Hagen Theatre at 7 p.m.

Motivated by their personal experience of loss, two long time friends created a powerful and inspiring documentary on the struggle of communication and preparation at the end of life. The film examines multiple perspectives on end of life care and includes interviews with patients, family members, doctors, nurses, clergy and many more.

A panel discussion will follow the film.

For more information on these and other advance care planning events, call the Comox Valley Hospice Society at 250-339-5533 or visit www.advancecareplanningcv.ca.

— Comox Valley Hospice Society

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