Amanda Milford and family friends Mike and Ginger Goral share a laugh. The three were among 11 who gathered together for dinner April 10 and a conversation about their end-of-life wishes.“National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is today. Many organizations throughout Wisconsin are leading events and encouraging people to “have the conversation” about their future medical decisions. Observed nationwide, NHDD is part of the advance care planning movement, where families like the Milfords are talking candidly about their wishes.
James Milford, MD, and his wife, Karen Narloch-Milford, organized their family conversation around a dinner held in the home of their son and daughter-in-law, Jackson and Michelle Milford of Madison, April 10. The group of 11, ranging in age from 19 to 60, reflected on past health care experiences; what kinds of care they would and wouldn’t want if they couldn’t speak for themselves; their personal beliefs and preferences toward their medical care; and how to select a health care decision-maker, also known as a health care agent. As the night came to a close, the group began the process of documenting their wishes in an advance directive.
Doctor Milford is a family physician practicing at UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center (WRMC) and Rainbow Hospice in Jefferson. WRMC is one of 23 organizations participating in Honoring Choices Wisconsin (HCW), an initiative of the Wisconsin Medical Society.
Doctor Milford expressed how important it is to have the conversation.
“It’s almost never the patient who has issues with the end-of-life or who’s at peace with the end-of-life, it’s always the family members and it has to do with the conversation,” he said. “It’s about conversation, again and again and again, with the people that you care about and who care about you. That’s what ends up creating a peaceful, meaningful experience at the end of life.”
The dinner was facilitated by Erin Aagesen, community engagement specialist for HCW and Wisconsin’s state liaison for NHDD. One of the questions Aagesen asked the group was about what gave their lives meaning. For Amanda Milford, 26, a first-year medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Milfords’ oldest child, it’s the relationships in her life that she values most.
“It would be a really big struggle to lose the ability to know who our family is, who our friends are, what we like, to see people grow, to see grandkids…that’s where I would struggle with later on…which I could very well have to face,” she said.
Click here for more information about NHDD.
HCW promotes the benefits of and improves processes for advance care planning across the state, in health care settings and in the community. For more information, visit www.honoringchoiceswi.org.
The name “Honoring Choices Wisconsin” is used under license from Twin Cities Medical Society Foundation.
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