Hospice of Humboldt to host advance health care directive workshop

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If you’re an adult over the age of 18, you might want to think about making sure you have an advance health care directive.

Karen Ayers, a nurse practitioner at Hospice of Humboldt, spoke to Redwood News about what an advance health care directive is.

“So an advanced directive is, formally, it is a paper that you write down the person that you would choose to make decisions for you if you were unable to make those decisions or medical decisions,” Ayers said.

You can choose anyone to be that person for yourself, not just a family member.

“I started out saying this formal paper thing, but the informal part of it is more important than anything,” Ayers said. “That’s the conversation that you have with the people that you love, the person you may be choosing to make decisions for you to be able to talk to them about what it is that you want so that they feel comfortable standing up and representing you if and when that time comes.”

Debra Patton, a medical social worker, will be leading this upcoming weekend’s workshop.

“It’s basically just starting the discussion and explaining what the advance directive is and it’s free,” Patton said. “Basically anybody that’s 18 or older can do an advanced directive it can always be changed. If someone is young and they name a decision maker at that time, they can always change it as life goes on. But to have that is important because if for some reason something happened, if someone had a heart attack that wasn’t planned or if they were in a car accident, or something, they couldn’t speak for themselves.

When the time comes to need documents like this, it’s often too late.

“It’s important to just make it a lot easier for families and for friends,” Patton said. “If someone has these decisions already written down, then they can just be with that person and not not have to make these major decisions.”

Ayers knows this feeling all too well.

“My mom, who died when she was 65, she did her trusts kind of thing and I was much younger then and didn’t really even tune in to any of this stuff,” Ayers said. “I did not know that she named me as her agent and she became very ill and I had to make big decisions for her without any conversation. Previously with her. And it was just heart wrenching, really hard.”

The advance health care directive workshop will be held from 10 to noon, Saturday, June 22, at Hospice of Humboldt, in the conference room. Everyone is welcome.