While enjoying wings and pizza with good friends last night, the movie Forrest Gump was on television in the background. In that movie, Forrest often says his mother always told him life was like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re going to get. I think we can dig down a little deeper and say that in getting older and in dying, we also never know what we’re going to get.
Anyone who’s ever received a box of chocolates knows that there is usually (not always) an illustrated guide included to tell you what is inside the chocolates. You can then more easily choose which pieces to eat, rather than poking your finger in each piece to figure out what it’s like inside. For me, those thick, creamy fruit-flavored centers simply ruin the chocolate and biting into one of them without the guide is a little, well, frustrating. In that respect, I think healthcare decision-making can also be like a box of chocolates.
We don’t know exactly what’s ahead for our health, or how/when changes to our physical and mental states will impair our abilities to care for ourselves or to speak for ourselves. But I suspect that many of us know a few things that we don’t want as the ravages of time and declining health overtake us. As well, there may be a number of things we want to accomplish before time and health run out.
Talking about the kind of care you want (or don’t want) and writing down your preferences can give your loved ones the “illustrated guide” to advocate for your choices, prepare themselves to make decisions on your behalf, and to relieve the burden of decision-making from their hearts and minds. It gives them the tools to see what’s “inside the chocolate” without “poking their fingers” at multiple options and hoping they find something you would like.
Caring Choices can help you prepare the guide for your loved ones so they don’t have to make guesses about what you like (want) or don’t like (want). Each of us has our own preferences, but without sharing them we may end up with the cream-filled centers that we don’t like (want).
(c) 2014 Caring Choices