Advance Care Team Asks, “What’s Your Plan, Estes Park?”
by Claudine Perrault, Director
In his recent and acclaimed book, “The Conversation: a Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care”, Dr. Angelo Volandes observes that one of the most important tools in a doctor’s proverbial black bag is as old as our species: compassionate human conversation.
Advanced care directives, he says, are something we tend to associate with death. But really, they are a part of life. And life, being a beautiful and amazing thing, deserves to end well.
Sometimes referred to as a “living will”, advance care directives are the written documents that serve as assurances that a person’s wishes for their end-of-life care are followed. A recent study found that only 32% of Larimer County residents have created advance care directives.
A new partnership among Estes Park agencies is making it simpler than ever to complete one of life’s most important tasks. It’s something that most of us avoid, often because of some very pervasive myths.
One of the myths associated with advance-care planning is the notion that such conversations only matter to the elderly or the terminally ill. In fact, illnesses and accidents can occur suddenly, and anyone 18 or older should discuss their options, and at least designate their Medical Durable Power of Attorney.
Those unfamiliar with this document—where to find it, how to complete it—may find themselves feeling a sense of anxiety. After all, isn’t this whole process complicated? Am I going to need to meet with an attorney?
That’s where the new “What’s Your Plan? Estes Park” initiative comes to the rescue. The Estes Valley Library, drawing upon its strategic health-literacy goal, “Make Informed Decisions”, is one of the friendly agencies partnering to make it easier than ever to meet with a specialist. That specialist, available for appointments at the library, will start by having a one-on-one conversation to discuss the process, and to identify a person’s values and wishes. If a client decides they are ready to prepare documents, forms, and checklists, it can be done in the same visit, or a follow-up appointment can be made.
“What’s Your Plan?” invites anyone age 18 or older to contact the library to schedule that initial conversation. The advance care team will help in key areas:
- Sharing your values and wishes with your loved ones.
- Putting your plan in writing and sharing it with your family and physician.
- Understanding about life-sustaining treatments available.
- Choosing the treatment options you would want or not want if diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.
These sessions are free of charge, made possible through the partnership with the Larimer Advance Care Planning Team and REACH (Rural Estes Alliance for Community Health). Among those agencies are the Estes Park Medical Group, Timberline Clinic, Salud Family Health Center, and the Good Samaritan Village of Estes Park.