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In an effort to bring important advance care planning discussions to Burlington County communities, Freeholder Deputy Director Linda Hughes announced today the launch of a new initiative to help county residents prepare for their future.
A recent survey found that 61 percent of New Jersey adults are comfortable with the idea of aging and have thought about their wishes for medical treatment near the end-of-life; yet, six out of 10 of those adults have no written documents expressing their wishes for the end-of-life. The survey also revealed that four out of 10 adults have not had conversations about advanced care planning.
“As Freeholder liaison to the County’s Office on Aging and someone whose career is in healthcare communications, I have seen firsthand what happens to families when these arrangements have been formalized, and sadly when they haven’t,” said Deputy Director Hughes. “I want to ensure that county residents are sharing with their loved ones the type of care they would like to receive if they are ever in a situation where they cannot speak for themselves. The courage to talk now, can avoid much heartache down the road.”
During the Board’s meeting this evening, Deputy Director Hughes joined the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, Burlington County Surrogate Mary Ann O’Brien, and other task force members, to kick-off the Burlington County Conversation of Your Life campaign. The goal of the new initiative is to encourage residents to have advanced care conversations with family members, close friends and their doctor, and to document their plans in writing.
In advance of National Health Care Decisions Day on Monday, April 16, 2018, and to emphasize the importance of this initiative, Deputy Director Hughes signed her own advance care directive during the meeting.
“The unfortunate reality is that very few adults are making advanced care plans long before they are needed. By taking action in public, I hope to embolden others to have these difficult conversations and make sure their wishes are followed,” added Deputy Director Hughes. “I also want residents to be aware of the services we have at the county to help guarantee that happens.”
The County’s Office on Aging offers a free senior legal service program to Burlington County residents age 60 and older; assisting seniors prepare a simple will, authorize a power of attorney, and complete an advanced medical directive are among the matters offered through this program.
Attorneys are available on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9:30 am to 11:30 am at the County Human Services building in Westampton. Appointments are not necessary.
In 2017, 1,391 residents took advantage of the county’s free senior legal service.