The Power of Words

ACP WordleWhen I created this Wordle a few years ago for Caring Choices, I chose words that I believed helped to explain the concept of Advance Care Planning as well as words I’d heard from my hospice patients and their families.  I hear similar things from my nursing home residents and their families.  These words, though, are more than “mere” words on a page or screen.

Some of these words represent what becomes important as people begin to face the end of a life – whether their own or of someone they love.  Many of these words require heartfelt consideration and loving contemplation.  Talking about some of the words may be downright frightening to some people; others may simply want to focus on LOVE and Family.

Regardless of which word (or phrase) stands out to you in our Wordle, know that you can use that word (or phrase) to begin a conversation with someone you love.  For instance, if your eye is drawn to “Quality of Life” you might consider telling your spouse, your best friend, your adult child (etc.) how you, personally, define that phrase.  It will mean something different to everyone.  But understanding your definition of that phrase will probably provide those you love with a good stepping stone for the next conversation.  It may also provide a solid foundation from which your loved ones could make care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate or participate in decision-making.

Someone else might focus on “Refocused Hope” and wonder what that means.  Jim and I have used this phrase with our patients and their families on many occasions.  Hope shifts from quantity to quality often in the concept of time, of relief from pain, and as simple as moments spent in quiet connection with one’s own thoughts. Hope becomes a desire for peace and comfort in place of “fighting” and “treatments.” Time comes to be more valuable once we see it as limited.  This refocused hope may now be the opportunity to see a wedding, graduation, or birth in place of seeking a cure.

Shared Decision Making” is a main tenet of advance care planning and what our goal as Caring Choices is in working with families.  While healthcare decisions are ultimately those of the patient (with advice from their healthcare team), the results of shared decision making benefit everyone involved.  Sharing decisions ensures that loved ones understand how and why certain decisions were made so that they can confidently carry out your wishes without second-guessing themselves or delaying the kinds of care you want.  Sharing decisions provides an opportunity to share fears and hopes, guidance and love.

Words can be powerful things.  When they are combined with action, they can change lives (and deaths).  A couple of decades ago my lifelong best friend gave me a picture that we have hanging in a place that we see every day.  It reads:  “It’s the caring and sharing from beginning to end. It’s the trust and the time that makes a true friend.”  Take the time to share our Wordle words with people you care about.  Trust that you have the ability to start a conversation that will change your life … and death.

Caring Choices – two simple words that can provide a loving connection between you and your loved ones.  Use words to convey your values, beliefs and decisions to people you care about.  Caring and sharing from beginning to end.

© 2015 Caring Choices