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May 19, 2020

Kathy’s mom had been sick for a while, but Kathy was starting to see major changes in her mom’s health. She knew she needed some guidance but wasn’t sure where to turn or what to do next. What were her mom’s wishes? And how could Kathy make sure those wishes were aligned with the health care her mom would need?

Kathy isn’t alone.

According to a 2019 analysis by the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 71 percent of Americans say they don’t know anything about palliative care—a type of care needed when dealing with advance illnesses.

Palliative care, which includes advance care planning, is an approach to caregiving that focuses on improving quality of life and providing comfort for those dealing with an advanced illness. This type of care helps relieve the stress and uncertainty of managing a serious illness, as it can take a toll on both the patient and their loved ones.     

While access to palliative care becomes more widely available, it raises important questions not only about how you’re managing your health, but about who’s managing it with you.

To help members who may be in this situation, Florida Blue is working with Vital Decisions—a health care organization that supports those dealing with serious illnesses through a program called Living Well. The goal of the program is to make sure that you, your loved ones and your caregivers feel supported and understood while you navigate your complex health needs—now and in the future.

When you participate in the program, you’ll have one-on-one access to a trained specialist. This specialist will serve as an advisor throughout the program. Through a series of phone calls, your specialist will work together with you or a loved one, so your medical care reflects what matters most to you.

Why is it important?
Advance care planning can impact people of all ages, not just the elderly, at varying stages in their lives and health care journeys. Whether you’re dealing with an advanced illness or supporting someone who is, here are some important benefits to consider:

  • Improved communication and coordination between patients, caregivers and doctors
  • Assistance with questions or medical decisions you may face now or in the future
  • Compassionate care and emotional support
  • Peace of mind knowing you or your loved one’s wishes are being honored
  • Higher satisfaction with the care being given

While advance care planning can be difficult to talk about, it’s an important part of making sure you are getting the care you want. It’s equally as important to make sure that your family and/or caregivers are involved in this process. So, if you’re ever in the position where you don’t know what choices to make about your medical care, someone who knows your needs and preferences can be there on your behalf.

Advance care planning can help put a stop to many of the obstacles that come along with serious illness. In a difficult time, this provides the peace of mind that both you and your loved ones deserve.