For Assemblymember Mark Stone, pursuing his own Advance Directive was about more than pragmatism: he was also thinking about the wellbeing of his wife. In the event that he could not speak to his own medical choices, he wanted to spare her from any further burden.
“An Advance Directive gives each of us control over what happens,” he told us. “Part of it is making it easier on each other. If one of us is incapacitated, then I’m happier knowing that I’m going to make my wife’s role a little bit easier. She doesn’t have to second guess or worry about what I would want.”
It is a thoughtful and personal decision that more people are making. Advance healthcare planning has surged since Congress passed the Patient Self-Determination Act in 1990. For many choosing an Advance Directive is more than representing your own wishes; it is a thoughtful act, a gift that eases the burden for loved ones.
Opening Up Important Topics with Family
Mark Stone is no stranger to caring for others. He is a husband, father, and elected official who cares for and represents many people. He’s also a passionate open water swimmer, who once successfully crossed the chilly, jelly fish filled waters of the English Channel. It took him 13 hours and 7 minutes to complete the swim.
For Mark, education is key. It’s an easy choice once people learn about the importance of advance healthcare planning.
“I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t really care what happens to them when they’re mentally or physically incapacitated and not able to make decisions,” Mark says. “We’re a culture that doesn’t always want to face the prospect of dying or becoming incapacitated, and yet it’s a natural part of our life.”
Mark is proud of his contributions to the End of Life Option Act, an historic California law that allows terminally ill patients to request a drug from their physician that will end the patient’s life. “These are very difficult decisions, but they’re also very, very personal decisions. When someone has suffered, being able to reserve for yourself as much control as possible is really what the End of Life Option Act is about.”
Mark said Advance Directives are an important topic for everyone to explore, “It’s a planning question and it’s a perspective for preserving dignity and preserving the kind of life that you want to live.”
When it comes to exploring personal choices, the conversation can begin with a simple question: “What do I want?”
Hospice of Santa Cruz County offers workshops and individual planning sessions that make exploring these choices — and making these wishes legally recognized — an approachable, simplified, and engaging experience. Many people often feel relieved after they complete their Advance Directive, after taking advantage of the extensive support and expertise that Hospice of Santa Cruz County offers. It is certainly easier than trying to navigate the process alone.
Thankfully, you no longer have to.