Monthly Seniors Luncheon/Talk Emphasizes Advanced Care Planning

Monthly Seniors Luncheon/Talk Emphasizes Advanced Care Planning

The Minto Express –

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


PALMERSTON – Jessica Hutchison says that the toughest hurdle involved with Advanced Care Planning (ACP) is getting the conversation going.

It’s certainly not the easiest subject to talk about. But creating a plan for others to make potentially life-altering medical decisions for you in the event of being unable to communicate those wishes yourself is something that not only seniors should be doing, but everyone.

“A lot of people don’t want to talk about it, because it involves discussing when you will die,” Hutchison told 30 members of the Palmerston Seniors Centre for Excellence on Jan. 13. “Accidents and illness can happen at any time. No matter how old you are or how young you are, it’s so important.”

Hutchison is the ACP community engagement lead for Hospice Waterloo Region, and has delivered countless seminars on the topic throughout Wellington County and Southwestern Ontario. She conveyed her message during the monthly Seniors Centre for Excellence luncheon at the Palmerston United Church last week.

“We like to connect with seniors in the community and stay connected,” said Helen Edwards, senior health services coordinator for North Wellington. “Staying social is so important for overall health.”

Hutchison broke down the specifics of ACP and how to go about designating a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) during the luncheon, and was met with much interest and a lot of questions from those in attendance. She also outlined the SDM hierarchy specific to Ontario, which identifies who will handle your decision making based on family structure should a medical incident leave you mentally incapacitated and unable to lucidly express your wishes.

The Seniors Centre for Excellence members were interested to learn of the SDM hierarchy breakdown, which lists as follows: Guardian, Power of Attorney for Personal Care, representative appointed by the Consent and Capacity Board, spouse/partner (includes common-law partner following one year of living together), child/parent, sibling, other relative, office of public guardian and trustee.

Hutchison said that the easiest way to avoid any confusion involved with having multiple people having SDM responsibility (as is the case with children; all children over the age of 16 in a given family must come to a consensus on what direction to take, not just the eldest) is to appoint a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, which solely applies to medical care needs, rather than the Power of Attorney for Property, which only handles financial applications. Spouses or children often become default SDMs, sometimes without knowing their partner or parent’s specific wishes before it’s too late. Again, Hutchison stressed that naming these people specifically in legal documentation and directly talking with them about their medical wishes makes tough decisions in difficult times that much easier. She also encourages everyone to carry a SDM identifying card in their wallet. “It’s all about what you want,” she said, adding that obtaining a legal form to appoint a Power of Attorney for Personal Care can be obtained online without going through a lawyer. “It’s not about picking favourites, it’s about honouring your wishes.” “It’s a difficult conversation to have, but once you start it, it can be so helpful,” added Edwards. “Whoever is speaking for you must clearly know your wishes.


For more information on the Seniors Centre for Excellence or to join their monthly luncheon/discussion, call 519-638-1000.

For more information on Advanced Care Planning, contact Hospice Waterloo Region at 519-743-4114.


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