By Kathy Walsh
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Planning for dying can be a difficult conversation. It is scary for the individual and emotional for loved ones, but it’s important to have that talk, before it’s too late.
Monday is National Healthcare Decisions Day. It is actually a week-long campaign from April 17-20.
UCHealth is reaching out to its employees this week to spur the conversation about stating your health care desires, so there is no question about your end of life wishes.
“I was 42 years old, I did not expect to have cancer,” said Terrie Rill , MBA-HCM, BSN, RN.
But in 2006, Rill was diagnosed with breast cancer. Before surgery, she detailed her health care decisions.
“If I’m in a vegetative state, go ahead and let me go,” said Rill.
She wanted her then-boyfriend, Dave, to be her medical power of attorney and speak for her if she wasn’t able.
“He said to me ‘I can’t do this. I love you, I need you, I’m going to keep you on this earth as long as I can,’” said Rill.
When the cancer came back in 2010, Terrie and Dave Rill married and he agreed to honor her decisions about dying.
“You have to face your mortality, but so do your loved ones,” said Terrie Rill.
She is the Director of Nursing for Ambulatory Services and Professional Standards at the University of Colorado Hospital and an advocate of National Healthcare Decision Day.
“It is something you can do around your kitchen table,” said Dr. Hillary Lum, Geriatrician at the University of Colorado Hospital Seniors Clinic.
Lum knows dying wishes are difficult to discuss, but important.
“It’s a way of maintaining control so that you are able to receive the care you want,” said Lum. “Here in Colorado, there are simple forms that are available on line.”
According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, more than 90 percent of people think it is important to talk about end-of-life care, but fewer than 30 percent actually do.
The experts say with advance care planning comes peace of mind.