Frequently Asked Questions

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 I am healthy, do I need this now?

The best time to do this is when you are healthy. The reason is that you are not under stress in your decision-making, and you can think through situations without the same level of intense emotion that you may experience if you are suddenly ill or have been in an accident.  To be truthful, we all know someone who died under the age of 50, even under the age of 30.  None of us are “too young” to think and plan for these things. 100% of people who complete a comprehensive plan feel comfort and peace of mind after going through the process.

Some of the worst situations, in our opinion, can be after a sudden accident or sudden illness. There is enough stress placed on families in sudden situations. 

For example, if a young man is in a motorcycle accident and is on ventilation and is not recovering well. His family are forced to make medical decisions on his behalf. It is common to hear family members say “I don’t know what to do…I don’t know what he would have wanted”… and this is an added stress on their shoulders.  This is a very different situation from a family who knew what his wishes were if anything were to ever happen to him. They can atleast say “as hard as this is on all of us, I know that this is what he wanted”, and then they are able to make what they feel is the right decision for their loved one in that stressful moment. These are certainly hard decisions for anyone to have to make. But they are certainly much MUCH harder if you have never had the conversations with your loved ones.  This includes documenting your wishes.

When under stress family can forget the conversations, or be unsure if they are doing the right thing.  To be able to refer to a booklet, that represents a person’s wishes, can provide comfort knowing they are doing the right thing.  In other situations, family disputes have arisen because one family member challenged another family members decision. Having the booklet is an excellent safeguard for family members, especially decision makers, to be able to demonstrate to opposing family members, that they were carrying out the wishes of the person. 

Of course, this is something that you do not just do and let it sit on a shelf for many years. It is something that you should re-visit over time. For example, if a close friend dies of breast cancer, you might re-think some of your original wishes after witnessing her journey. Or for example, if a friend dies of ALS, you might change your viewpoint on certain issues after witnessing his death and the things his family experienced through the journey. 

   

Why plan ahead for something that I won't have control over anyway??? 

By planning ahead it is actually putting you in control.  If you don't have a plan, then you have no voice, and you have no say.  One of the biggest errors that people make is in who they appoint to speak for them when they cannot. They chose people based on family status or connection, instead of thinking through "who will follow my wishes? who will carry out things in the manner that I would have if i could?".   

 

I have had these conversations with my family. They know what my wishes are. Why do I have to write it down in worksheets or in a booklet? 

When under stress family can forget the conversations or be unsure if they are doing the right thing.  To be able to refer to a binder or booklet, that represents a person’s wishes, can provide comfort knowing they are doing the right thing.  In other situations, family disputes have arisen because one family member challenged another family member’s decision. Having the binder/booklet is an excellent safeguard for family members, especially decision makers, to be able to demonstrate to opposing family members, that they were carrying out the wishes of the person. It is even helpful to bring a copy with you to the hospital if your loved one is having a scheduled surgery that may be risky. That way you are prepared if the medical team need to consult with you and a decision needs to be made quickly and on the spot.

 

I am afraid of this stuff making me cry and being a huge dramatic emotional exercise. I know that most people avoid this topic because of fear. I am a little worried that it will be emotional for me.

Thank you for being so open about your fears, as this is always a good place to start. At Parosol we understand that people may be a bit uneasy coming in to a topic that is mostly avoided by most North Americans, and so we will do everything we can to help put you both at ease.  

Although some parts of the topic can be difficult, by starting the conversation it can help remove a lot of the fear that people have.

 

Ultimately it depends on your personality and how much prior discussions you have had around the topics.  For some, this planning stuff can be very “unemotional”, direct and to-the-point with no fluff.  While for others, they begin to think differently, and realize that they have some subjects they need to discuss further with their spouse or loved ones. 

Whatever your situation, when we hop on our Success Calls, we are here to meet you were you are at, and to ensure compassion and diplomacy where needed.

Our goal is that everyone feels better after going through the process, and that they have greater peace of mind. 

 

If I am still able to speak for myself, will my daughter still have a say in my medical choices?

The premise for the Sunset Plan™, is to discuss, document, and communicate your wishes and intentions in the case you are unable to speak for yourself.  There are federal, provincial and state laws that protect persons to be able to make their own medical decisions, if they are competent to do so. It is only when you are determined to be incompetent, or unable to make your own health care decisions, that your substitute decision maker or Power of Attorney for personal care/health, then would have the power to make decisions on your behalf.  At Parosol we always recommend that you discuss your values, wishes, beliefs, and decisions with your loved ones, including at a time when you are well, so that they continually learn and understand what your values are around medical decisions and care, so that they know you well and what you would want if a time came when you were unable to speak for yourself. We encourage people to communicate often and to keep their loved ones in the loop.

 

Doesn’t it depend on the situation? What if I don’t know what my wishes are around certain medical treatments?

A great question. You do NOT need to know your wishes prior to doing your Sunset Plan™. It is always helpful if you have thought about some things, and talked them over with others, but it is not necessary.  The program will bring forward new information that may cause you to re-think your initial thoughts on a subject, or that will help you understand a topic better (for example, helping you understand the medical system), so that any decision you make is an informed decision. We will never sway your decision in one direction or another, but rather just provide you with information. You always have the final say.

In regards to "doesn’t it depend on the situation?", you are correct. With our experience in hospice care, palliative care, cancer care, and more, we are able to come up with common situations and scenarios, and talk them through with you. However we cannot think through every situation since each is unique. Your Sunset Plan™ will outline your wishes, values and beliefs around your health, aging, medical decisions, and more. It will be up to you speak up during any future scenarios that you live through (or it may be up to your substitute decision maker if you are incapable to do so). When new information comes forward you should take the following steps:

1)    Communicate the change to all the important people in your life – this includes your health care team, family, and Substitute Decision Maker and/or Power of Attorney(s).

2)    Update your Sunset Plan™ by making a notation in the section where the change is OR use a blank refill page to annotate your change.

If you would like to have a 1:1 consultation for guidance, then you are always welcome to schedule an additional Consultation by emailing [email protected]

 

Shouldn’t my doctor be the one to talk to me about these things?

It would be wonderful if every doctor took the time to discuss these important matters with every patient, but sadly that is not how our health care systems are set-up. To make matters worse, most physicians do not have the training and knowledge in these areas and are not comfortable having these types of conversations. According to a Canadian study (CHPCA, 2012), only 9% of people have spoken to a health care provider about their wishes for care. Sadly, the conversations do not happen, even though industry providers continually say how important these conversations are. It can mean the difference between a good experience and a bad experience for a family.

 

My sister is a nurse…my brother is a doctor…my brother-in-law is a lawyer…I used to be a nurse…I think I don’t need your services.

It is always a great start to have a lawyer, health care provider, or other professional in your close circle.  But statistics tell us, according to a Canadian study (CHPCA, 2012), fewer than half of people have discussed health care treatments with a family member or friend to express what they would want if they were ill and unable to communicate; meanwhile only 46% have designated a substitute decision-maker (someone to speak on their behalf if they cannot communicate).  It may be likely that you are likely to have conversations about health care decisions, future aging, etc. with your knowledgeable family member, which is wonderful. Our experience is that if people have had the conversations, they definitely have not written their wishes down, and have only spoken to one or two people at most. At Parosol we advise having an actual written plan that your loved ones can refer to at any time – including moments of distress and decision making. I have seen people take their booklet with them to the hospital, prior to their loved one having a surgery, to be sure they had it for reference if the outcome of the surgery didn’t go well. You can never be over prepared. 

 

How long does it take to do a Sunset Plan™?

Our online program is 60-days.  The program could probably be "binged" on and done in a condensed week, however we would not recommend it. Creating a health, care and aging plan requires education, reflection, and discussion.  This is something that you should allow yourself time to think and reflect on, as well as have conversations with your loved ones. Plan to commit a minimum of one hour a week to the program.

  

I have cancer, can I still do a Sunset Plan™?

Absolutely! The time to do a Sunset Plan™ is now! Whether you are healthy or living with an illness, there is no time like the present. Why put off something any longer that most people will put off for years! If I can say so, you will probably find the whole exercise of going through the Sunset Plan™ to be very therapeutic in many ways. It gives you more clarity about what you want and don’t want in life around medical treatments, care options, future living arrangements, and more.  We also provide a lot of education in each session and it is common for people to say “I had no idea so much was involved” or “I never even thought of that!”.  With our backgrounds in various areas, such as cancer care, palliative care, hospice care, long term care, etc. you will find that your Instructor is very knowledgeable about the landscape and can help to answer questions in many areas. 

   

Do I still need a Living Will?

At Parosol we recommend that you discuss the inclusion of a Living Will (along with your will) with a trained estate planning lawyer.  A will and living will is a great starting point for anyone beginning to embark on the journey of estate planning. Note: verbiage can change. In some areas this is also known as Advance Directives.

  

I purchased the optional hard copy booklets.  How quickly will I receive them?

We use express post courier service, so usually it will arrive within a week, all subject to the postal service and your location.

 

Once I create my plan is it final?

The document does not need to be ever final. For example, let’s say that you outlined that you would prefer to live in a certain place when you could no longer properly care for yourself.  If, over time, your decision has changed, then you can update your own booklet by making an annotation on the same page, or using the blank note pages.  

It is always important to note that if you communicated your original Sunset Plan™ with your loved ones and substitute decision makers, then you should go back to these individuals and update them about your changes so that they are in the loop.

  

Why the name Parosol?

The name Parosol is the combination of two latin words.  The first being “Paro” which means setting, and “sol” which means sun.  The combination of the two words means “setting sun”, or sunset and we feel the imagery of a setting sun goes nicely with how we are planning for the future time when our own sun will set – the sun representing our life.  The idea we see is that when we are young and vibrant and robust, the sun is at the highest – like an early afternoon bright sun.  As we age the sun begins to go down, until finally the sun sets.  The other meaning Parosol could have is umbrella - the analogy of the umbrella (spelled parasol - different spelling though) that covers (protects) you and your family.  A great analogy that Jill uses with clients.

 

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