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A Valentine’s Day Song for End-of-Life Care

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End-of-life care planning has taken on added urgency as COVID-19 cases and deaths have surged. (Halfpoint/Adobe Stock)
End-of-life care planning has taken on added urgency as COVID-19 cases and deaths have surged. (Halfpoint/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY - Producer, Contact
February 3, 2021

NEW YORK -- If you're looking for a unique gift for Valentine's Day, you might consider giving some peace of mind -- by deciding and sharing what type care you'd want in a health crisis.

The COVID pandemic has brought new urgency to the need for end-of-life planning. It may seem like an unlikely theme for a song, but the not-for-profit organization Compassion & Choices has put its advice to music to encourage people to prepare advance directives for end-of-life care.

Kim Callinan, the group's president and chief executive, said she hopes the song will help people find new ways to share messages of empowerment, gratitude and the importance of making plans aligned with their personal values and priorities.

"Valentine's Day is a time when you show your loved ones that you care about them," she said, "and one way to show that you care is to give the gift of clarity by documenting and discussing your end-of-life preferences."

The song, "This Is Your Show," features Broadway and film star Carmen Ruby Floyd. Callinan said the second verse captures the core message with the words, "You have the option to write your last chapter."

Brandi Alexander, national director of community engagement at Compassion & Choices, noted that surveys show African Americans are more likely to choose aggressive treatment to prolong life, but this group also is less likely than others to prepare advance directives, to let people know their wishes for end-of-life care.

"A lot of it has to do with a history of mistrust with the medical community, and really just not wanting to have the discussion," she said, "and therefore, we don't talk about it until it's almost too late or until we're in a time of crisis."

Alexander added that when her father died without making his own end-of-life wishes clear, it caused disagreement and tension in her family as they tried to decide what he would have wanted.

Callinan urged people to go through the process of deciding what level of care they want, and then communicating those wishes. The organization's website has a plan-your-care section that is free to use.

"That has a simple checklist that helps them to learn what priorities are most important to them and how to fill out an advance directive, how to make sure your doctor's aware of what you want; having conversations with your health care proxy and your loved one," she said.

She pointed out that end-of-life planning and discussions are about love, and how you or your family want to be cared for.

Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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