Garry Mac, chief marketing and developmental officer of Hospice of Chattanooga, told members of the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club on Thursday that, aside from having to teach kids about the birds and the bees, one of the hardest conversations to have is what loved ones want their end-of-life plans to be.
During his speech, he urged his audience to have that conversation anyway. Just as in things like finances, he said everyone needs to have a plan in place.
“We have a plan for everything else,” Mac said. “It’s very important your family knows what you want.”
Proper planning includes having a will, designating a person who can make decisions on one’s behalf in case of an emergency and deciding when one would want doctors to “pull the plug,” he said.
He also shared why he thought the possible need for hospice care in the future is something that should be included in one’s end-of-life plans.
Mac said many people have misconceptions about hospice care, mainly that it means someone could be dying in a matter of days. However, he said many patients actually end up living for months with things like terminal illnesses.
Hospice care provides services that are said to allow people whose doctors suspect are near the ends of their lives to be kept more comfortable.
Using his organization as an example, he said that centers are able to provide a wide range of services to people who have been told they have six months or less to live, including things like nursing care and bereavement counseling.
After sharing about it a bit longer, he urged Rotarians to get involved with Hospice of Chattanooga by volunteering.
He explained that, according to a bill signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan that allowed hospice care to be covered by Medicare, part of what they do has to be done with the help of volunteers to carry on the legacy of how hospice care got its start in the United States.
“We are required that 5 percent of patient care is by volunteers,” Mac said, noting that the same applied to all hospice care organizations.
Mac said his organization’s volunteers can help by doing things like sitting with patients or by donating their time in other ways like helping out with a camp for children who have lost loved ones or assisting with things like constructing wheelchair ramps in the homes of people whose conditions suddenly require them to use one.
Whether or not a person includes wanting hospice care in their end-of-life plans, he again stressed the importance of discussing the plan with loved ones.
“The conversation — that’s the most important piece,” Mac said.
For more information about the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club, visit www.bradleysunrise-rotary.com.