Health Providers Stress Importance of Creating an Advance Health Plan

Regardless of age, officials say that everyone should have an advance directive in case of a health emergency

FARGO, N.D. —¬†Young people don’t usually think about how they’d like to be cared for if they are unable to make their own decisions, but health officials say it’s important for everyone to have a plan in case of the inevitable.

“For young people, car accidents, a whole variety of things could happen to them too, even though they’re ‘bulletproof’. It’s helpful for them to at least think about these and share their thoughts with somebody and the advance directive document is a great way to do that,” said Grant Richardson, the Senior Executive for Development and Community Relations for Bethany Retirement Living.

When thinking of ways to carry out a plan, it is important to have the right people make the critical decisions.

“Having those plans in place helps make sure your wishes are granted, that somebody doesn’t have to make an uncomfortable decision on your behalf that they’re going to live with after that,” said Richardson.

When coming up with an advance care plan, it is important for someone to have an agent in place, to be aware of religious or moral beliefs, and be attentive to palliative care or intensive care.

Health care providers say that an agent must be a reliable option that can act on your behalf.

“An agent should be someone that knows you really well, who’s had a conversation with you about what you want for your health care, and who is willing to make the choice based on what you want,” said Jean Pladson, a Faith Community Nurse at Sanford Health.

Even for the older generation, the staff at Bethany Retirement Living could assist families and individuals who still have not made a plan.

“Our social workers are trained facilitators that can assist throughout the process, and just knowing that they are very difficult decisions to be made,” said Tara Copley, the Director of Social Services at Bethany Retirement Living.

Health care officials recommend updating the plan every ten years, or if there is a death in the family, a divorce, a new health diagnosis, or a noticeable decline in health.

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