This can be a tough subject and one we frequently do not want to think about, but making end of life plans is one of the most comforting things you can do for your loved ones.

Make sure your loved ones never need to struggle with the excruciating questions:  “Did mom ever say anything to you?” or “Do you know what dad wants?”

Put an Advance Health Care Directive in place right away and encourage those you love to make end of life plans as well.

Put Your End of Life Plan in Place

The national average of Americans with an Advance Health Care Directive is around 30%.

But in the small town of La Crosse, 96% of the residents who have died have had an advance medical directive in place.

According to a recent NPR story, all this came about because of one man:  Dr. Bud Hammes, Medical Humanities Director at Gundersen Hospital in La Crosse.

Dr.Hammes often found himself sitting with families of terminally ill patients or patients who had a stroke, were in a coma or on life support machines, trying to figure out what to do next.

He said the conversations were excruciating: “Did mom ever say anything to you?” “Do you know what dad wants?”  He said that the moral distress of the families was tangible. 

Dr. Hammes knew that this could be avoided, so he started training nurses to ask patients if they wanted to sign an advance directive and over the years, planning for death has become a way of life in La Crosse.

Actually, one other thing makes La Crosse stand out:  the town also has lower healthcare costs than any other place in the U.S.  And these two things – a high incidence of residents with advance directives and low healthcare costs — are inextricably linked. The lower healthcare costs? Dr. Hammes said that the reduction in spending was an accident, a byproduct of letting people make their own choices.

You can listen to the entire NPR story here:
NPR: Living Wills are the Talk of The Town in La Crosse, Wis.

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