We all make assumptions on a daily basis. There are several definitions of “assume”:
- to take for granted or without proof
- to take upon oneself
- to take over the duties or responsibilities of
- to take on (a particular character, quality, mode of life, etc.)
- to take on; be invested or endowed with
We assume the sun will rise and the earth will continue to rotate around it. We assume we know something about a person based on the color of skin, religion, politics or lot in life. We assume entitlements or rights.
When we leave our homes for work or play, we assume we will return safely. When we say goodbye to family and friends, we assume we will see each other again. When we say goodnight, we assume we will wake in the morning.
We assume positions, responsibility, offices, duties, control, obligations and characterizations. We assume roles at work and within our families. We assume.
There are also deep assumptions entrenched in the world of advance care planning and healthcare choices. Inevitably, whenever we are talking about personal healthcare choices and decisions, someone will make this statement when asked if they have had a conversation or prepared documents: “My [family member] knows what I want.”
That is one huge assumption! How can anyone know what one wants if there is no conversation, no dialogue, no personal decision-making, no clearly-defined documentation? Do we have the right to assume that our family members will make decisions for us? Do we have the right to assume that our family members WANT to make decisions for us?
Assuming someone else can and will make healthcare decisions for us can force an undue burden on them psychologically, socially and physically. Assuming that our children will take care of us is ill-conceived, especially if they live far away. Assuming that loved ones know what we want without ever talking about options and choices is irresponsible. People often say, “I don’t want to be a burden”. And I get that. But too often people ASSUME that loved ones will know what to do and when to do it. When they don’t know and are forced to “guess”, that assumption becomes an enormous burden.
And you know what they say about assumptions (see title of this post).
Caring Choices can help alleviate the undue encumbrance of ill-placed assumptions. Relieve the burden of assumptions by having conversations and making decisions while you are healthy with those you love. Every day you put it off puts you one day closer to forcing loved ones to assume they know what you want.
(c) 2014 Caring Choices