This week, I thought it would be good to switch gears some and talk about how I am involved with the Putnam County Hospice and Palliative Care Association (PCHPCA).
The PCHPCA is an organization committed to helping Putnam County residents know what hospice and palliative care are, and how both can enhance quality of life for the dying. A major focus for us is on advance care planning, which is how loved ones can make decisions about how you want to be cared for when you can't speak for yourself.
The reality is that everyone will die, and it only comes down to when and how. Still, there is a taboo with talking about death. It can be too morbid for polite conversation, or it could be defeatist to acknowledge the inevitability, especially for people my age.
"The democracy of death encompasses us all," psychologist Herman Feifel wrote in a seminal 1959 essay volume on the subject. "To deny or ignore it distorts life’s pattern ... In gaining an awareness of death, we sharpen and intensify our awareness of life."
The end-goal is encouraging dialogue about the dying process and how to prepare for it. I advocate that hospice isn't necessarily just about a dying person's wishes, but also about how loved ones and caregivers can be confident with carrying out those wishes.
Advance care planning takes out a lot of the guesswork when focusing on your needs. I think advance directives are especially important for those in emergency response, i.e. police, fire and EMT. It becomes one less important thing to think about or to put off.
The PCHPCA has its own board of directors, as well as our community education and professional education committees. I have served as the chairman for community education since last January, and I am also a member of our nominations committee.
Everyone aside from our executive director is a volunteer, and I think this is crucial. We have members representing faith, funeral pre-planning, media and medical care in general. Our aim is to have representation from different fields and parts of Putnam County. We are looking to increase our reach online and out in the community itself.
The PCHPCA will have a table at the Putnam County Senior Health Fair planned for Wednesday, Sept. 15 at the Putnam County Fairgrounds. If you'll be there, we invite you to stop by and talk about advance care planning, and take home a directive on us.
For more information, you can visit our website at www.pchpca.org. I also encourage you to share your experiences with hospice and palliative care in the comment section.