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Make Your Healthcare Choices Known Before It’s Too Late

Monday, October 17 2016 3:36 PM

One of the most difficult times we likely all will face is a major health crisis.  Only the few and fortunate live their life without such an event (or two or three or?).  By crisis I mean the event or events that upheave our routine, causing us to be hospitalized, surgery perhaps, and then needing to seek additional care beyond the hospital stay. For most, these events tend to occur later in life; in our sixties, seventies and eighties.

As is typical of us “humans”, we know and can articulate this reality but we tend to dismiss it and in so doing, fail to plan for the eventuality.  Because of this, when the event or events occur, we find ourselves facing a slew of rapid decisions and confusing processes.  As I have been in and around health care, particularly senior care, for over 30 years I have watched family after family navigate through a gauntlet of decisions, sudden, vexing and too often overwhelming.

Because I see this unfold daily, have lived it, and watched closely, a lack of information and insight lead to poor decisions and even poorer outcomes, I try to impress upon people whenever I can, the following.  Larksfield is a phenomenal soap box…and I have a marvelous “choir” that provides the same chorus.

  1. You have a choice in where and from whom, you receive your care.  If you can now, tell everyone you care about and who cares about you, where you want to receive your care when the “time” comes. 
  2. Quality is important and easy to understand.  Your choices should always be informed.  The government provides free information on hospitals, home health agencies, skilled nursing facilities about quality.  This information is often called “star reports”.  The more stars, the better.  Five is the best.  I recommend folks ask for the 5 Star options.
  3. Quick tip….under Medicare, the ‘best’ costs the same as lesser choices.  For example, a 5 Star nursing home or home health agency will charge you (as applicable) and be paid by Medicare, the same as a three or two star provider.  I recommend folks seek the “best”.
  4. Have your advance directives complete and up to date.  Communicate your wishes to those you love, who love you, and your doctor.  You have the power to make your choices known and you should NOW, before a crisis when decisions are complex.