End-Of-Life Care: Making Women’s Treatment Options A Priority

On the issue of the life of a woman and patient autonomy emphasis on women’s involvement in their end-of-life health care decisions.

As millions of women approach the end of their lives, both themselves and their families are confronted with numerous medical decisions which are created just for them. These decisions can range from simple to highly complex end-of-life care and options choices.

A principal tenet to end-of-life care for the terminally ill is patient autonomy.

The beauty of patient autonomy for women today with end-of-life care, is that we as women have the abilities and rights to take control of our health care.

Autonomy allows women to take control of their own decisions.

You see, oftentimes, society has a tendency to dictate our perceptions. A women’s right through autonomy means having the ability to take charge of their life and end-of-life care options without any outside influences.

For the millions of American women with life-threatening illnesses, medical decisions are often made for them. However, these women may not even be aware of this. Medical end-of-life decisions often are the most challenging for terminally ill women and also their loved ones.

Today, the principles of individual autonomy in most Western medical systems are primary. Patient autonomy allows for health care providers to educate the patient. However, it doesn’t allow providing the decision for a patient.

As an example, a woman who may be diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer may be given the choice to engage in watchful waiting (WAW). WAW is an approach to a medical problem in which time is allowed to pass before medical intervention or therapy is used where repeated testing may also be performed versus more invasive default procedures, radiation or surgery.

Our “one-size-fits-all” healthcare system defaults to treatments that cause needless pain and suffering – even after these treatments no longer provide a path back to health, according to Truth in Treatment™.

JAMA Internal Medicine Journal highlights that patients overestimate benefits and underestimate harms of medical tests and procedures.

According to the International Journal for Quality in Healthcare, 1 in 3 people near the end of life receive non-beneficial treatments (a treatment given with little or no hope of it having any effect).

Truth in Treatment™ gives women with life-threatening illnesses the support, opportunity and courage to live life to the fullest even as illnesses advance.

It’s a free tool and healthcare initiative founded by Compassion & Choices. Compassion & Choices is non-profit organization which I advocate for that improves care, expands options, and empowers people to chart their end-of-life journey.

Here is how Truth in Treatment™ works:

Diagnosis Decoder: Helps you prepare for your doctor visit. Questions tailored to your needs help you get the complete information you deserve.

Create a Trust Card: It helps you build a trusting doctor-patient relationship by clearly conveying your values in a respectful and friendly manner.

Share Your Story: Your story of obtaining a care plan that puts you in charge could inspire the next movement in end-of-life care.

Most people would choose improved quality of life over interventions that could prolong life but reduce their quality of life, according to Living Well at the End of Life Poll conducted by the National Journal and The Regence Foundation.  

Truth in Treatment™ ignites a social movement to empower and educate women and men so they can make fully informed healthcare choices, living their remaining time on their own terms — transforming our health system for all.

“Americans have lost control of their healthcare destiny. Our healthcare system ignores people’s hopes and worries, and prescribes treatments that rob them of the quality of life they want and deserve. We need to regain control over our healthcare. Only then can we live life on our own terms,” states Barbara Coombs Lee Founder and President of Compassion & Choices.

Women today are faced with unique challenges during their lifetime. From health care system interaction to women’s roles in society. Women account for more than half of the U.S. population and are likely to live longer than men.  

These challenges can walk a very thin line for women. As women continue to evolve and we enter a more modern era of care, many female patients and physicians seek out truth in treatment and a higher level of involvement.

In making end-of-life care decisions, a dying person and loved ones choices are plentiful. From making legal decisions on advance directives, deciding what type of caregiving help they need, choosing the level of family caregiving involvement, spiritual, medical, psychosocial, practical decisions, and more.

Start with Truth in Treatment™: Make a list of what’s important to you and exercise your autonomy. Millions of Americans live with serious illnesses.

By knowing what you want and how to take action to get truth in treatment, you have the ability to live life on your own terms help empower others to gain control of their healthcare even when they are at their most vulnerable.

Acknowledging we are all going to die and having the ability to make a choice is a reality that can happen for anyone today. During our time here on earth, you can reflect, ask yourself questions, and have sincere choice about how you want to live and spend the final days of your life. Make decisions and then take proper action steps to ensure you receive what you want.

Written by Jennifer Lynn

Jennifer Lynn is a healthcare consultant and advocate for compassion and choices. With over 15+ years experience working for global enterprise companies covering various sectors, she also has emerging markets and innovation experience working in the digital health and not for profit sector. She has consulted with over hundreds of businesses, has attended and spoke for technology and innovation conferences and contributed to innovative healthcare projects in disaster preparedness.

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