By Mary S. Price
Don’t want to talk politics this holiday season? Play “Go Wish!”
Families and friends may be uncomfortable discussing your health wishes until they have to, and technology is a barrier to keeping your wishes visible. Thinking forward to a time when you are not healthy or independent is not pleasant. Perhaps you are like most Americans and health providers, and you would rather avoid talking about these changes or the tough decisions that go with them. Doctors and insurance companies only recently agreed on how to bill for and pay for conversations about advance directives.
Research found that about one fourth of the people who need to make end-of-life decisions struggle to do so for themselves. These decisions, also known as “advance directives,” when chosen before a crisis, can make the difference between a highly medicated and expensive end to life, and a more peaceful and intentional closure for one’s life.
The Go Wish game was developed to make thinking about the choices easier and more personal. Perhaps you don’t like to think about it? Then try the free online solitaire version of Go Wish game to better understand yourself and what your deep desires are for how the end of your life can best be spent.
Consider this: Doctors and Hospitals can’t keep up with your decisions either. Most Americans have a lot of freedom to choose doctors and facilities for healthcare but keeping your end-of-life decisions viewable when you need them is nearly impossible. Just because you took the important step of documenting your legal advance directives and even gave it to your doctor or hospital, there is no assurance you will be at that hospital or doctor when your decisions matter.
Only the paper is portable between different information systems and there is no universal technology solution for this barrier. Legal documents have personal identity that limits how and where they are viewed. Play the game, print your Top Ten, keep a picture of your Top Ten in your social media profile and phone. Text it to your friends/family who might be around when you need them most to remember your wishes.
Surely you have watched an older friend or family member’s social circle dwindle as their health and energy declined. Perhaps you saw your grandparents or parents stop seeing certain friends because they just couldn’t get together anymore? The loss of social connections often means a loss of faith community as well. Without either faith community or friends, who will help you out?
You saw how your grandparents stopped going to religious events when their bodies or minds found new limits. Did anybody from the temple or church call or come by to visit? Faith communities can let their elders down when they fail to see how they are needed or how to help. If you are a faith leader, volunteer or paid, the “Go Wish” game could be an interesting way to reconnect with aging members of your community, and a real gift to younger members who can begin thinking of end-of-life issues before they find themselves in the midst of crisis. Play the game as part of faith based social events and education. Get intentional and creative for staying in touch with those who can’t be present like they used to. You may be helping yourself in the long run!
Of course your Top Ten Go Wish game results aren’t a legal document like your state specific advance directive form is (each state has it’s own end-of-life policies and laws). But really, if you know your preferences, you can exercise your will and use to your voice by playing the game and sharing your Top Ten. Tap into technology that travels with you and those you will call on when you need them.
This holiday season politics isn’t a side dish many will want to serve up at the table of family and friends. So take this season as an opportunity to serve up a different kind of challenging topic. Play “Go Wish” and make your voice and your vote count at the end of your own life, and help others you love to do the same.
Mary S. Price is a nurse administrator in a palliative care program and a third-year M.Div student in the Women’s Leadership Initiative program at Central Tennessee.