Advance Care Planning and COVID-19

Worried about COVID-19 and its spread? Thinking about how to take action and prepare? DWDC’s National Advance Care Planning Coordinator, Connie Jorsvik, has tips on how to use this opportunity to have conversations about your health and plan ahead to give you peace of mind.

While Canada is doing a great job of managing the spread of COVID-19, there are still reasons to prepare and remain cautious. Vigilance and protection on an individual level is important as the virus spreads, especially for those who are elderly, frail, or have a compromised immune system.

Toronto-based epidemiologist Dr. David Fishman told Bob McDonald in an interview on Quirks & Quarks that, while it's hard to know for sure, it is possible that we’ve passed the tipping point for this epidemic.

While most people are only mildly ill and may only have symptoms of a cold they may, in fact, be the carriers that could affect those who are older or immunocompromised. “This [virus] is much more dangerous for older people than younger people.... If you’re under 50, the [absolute] risk of death is under 1%; for people at 50 years of age, it is 1%; [at 60] it will be 3%; [at 70] it is 7 or 8%; and then for 80 year old’s, it is 15% mortality,” says Dr. Fishman.

What we’re all dealing with is an "adjustment reaction." Hyper-vigilance is a normal reaction and caution is advisable for those who are at a higher risk. This epidemic is an important call to action to start your healthcare and end-of-life planning. You can use this an opportunity to say to your loved ones, “I’m a little worried. The best thing you can do for me right now is to listen. I’m older and am at greater risk of having things go sideways with my health. I’d like you to help me with planning. And, months from now, we can laugh at how much I overreacted.”

Advance Care Planning and COVID-19

This is an opportunity to get your paperwork in order.

This is a great time to take a look at your life insurance policies, get your taxes and your bills in order, and to prepare a Will. If you don’t get seriously ill (which is likely!), you’ve given yourself and those you love a gift for the future.

If the pandemic begins to move through the population, the ability to meet face-to-face with your financial planner and lawyer will be restricted because offices will close. Many professionals will begin to work from home, so book any necessary in-person meetings now.

Many businesses are already ramping up remote Skype and Zoom meetings with their clients. Will your computer support these kinds of meetings and appointments?

Finally, let your family know where they can find your important papers. These documents should include necessities about your values, beliefs, and preferences for care (see below), as well as financial documents, funeral arrangements, and any other important contracts/forms.

Think about your values, beliefs and preferences for future healthcare

Those who are older (in this case, over 50) are at higher risk of requiring intensive care – think about whether that is something you would want if ICUs were at capacity. If you become seriously ill, would you rather die at home or in-hospital? If you are at home, will your loved ones, friends, or neighbours be able to support you?

Frank discussions with your loved ones are of paramount importance. This is a time to open up dialogue. We simply can’t know what is coming next in life, so it’s always better to start the important conversations now.

COVID-19 is dominating our news cycle and it can be very emotional for many people as they watch it unfold. However, emotion can put us into motion. Think of using this as an opportunity to prepare for the future, which is a massive gift for your loved ones and for yourself.

Read more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 in the earlier instalment of our National Advance Care Planning Coordinator's series on the epidemic here

*Please note that all information in this blog post was accurate at the time of posting; we're continuing to update our blog and site with information on COVID-19 as the situation develops.