Mayor’s Column: The South Jersey Mayors Wellness Campaign

Mayor Mignogna discusses creating an open dialogue with family regarding end-of-live wishes.

I am proud to be part of the South Jersey Mayors Wellness Campaign. This year our focus is on “Conversation of Your Life,” engaging individuals and families in dialogue relative to end-of-life wishes through advanced care planning.

A recent survey conducted by the Healthcare Quality Institute revealed that the public is comfortable with aging and discussions of end-of-life issues. However, very few are making plans, and many are not aware of the importance of end-of-life care options and advanced care planning documents. The survey reported that six out of 10 New Jersey adult residents have no written documents expressing their wishes for end-of-life care, and 38 percent of New Jersey adult residents have not had conversations about advanced care planning.

The goal of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign is to promote conversations with family, friends or doctors to understand and respect end of life wishes through advanced care planning. Ultimately, it is hoped that these wishes are documented in writing. Supporting family conversations, preferably around the kitchen table, rather than later in the ICU during a crisis, is why I support this campaign.

Effective Jan. 1, Medicare underscored the importance of advanced care planning talks by approving counseling by primary care physicians in its physician fee schedule. These topics are tough to bring up with those we love. It is hard to find the right time, but by avoiding these topics, we can lose control of having wishes honored if illness or injury suddenly makes us unable to speak for ourselves.

Samaritan Hospice is taking on this challenge year round. Their Timely Conversations Project has coined the easy to remember slogan “think talk act.” These three simple words challenge you to think about what matters most to you, talk about it with those you love and your healthcare providers and act on those wishes by writing them down and providing copies to all who need them.

Join me and the South Jersey Mayors Wellness Campaign in pursuing the gift of timely conversations with your family. It will provide peace of mind and better outcomes for years to come. For more information, tools and resources to begin your discussion visit, www.samaritannj.com.