Steve Byrne, Co-Founder finalroadmap.com
In 2016 Medicare will pay doctors to discuss end of life planning with patients – helping give them a better understanding of choices and a voice in the care they want. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine found “A lack of an end of life plan, created well in advance, typically leads to prolonged hospitalization, soaring medical bills and unnecessary pain and suffering for everyone.”
Often families are asked to make critical healthcare decisions without full information and under terribly stressful circumstances. The knee-jerk reaction is almost always in favor of medical intervention without the ability to understand the downsides or economic costs. Every day people’s assets are being spent on treatments that will neither save nor positively impact their lives.
Most people do not want to die in a hospital intensive care unit, surrounded by machines, flashing lights and hovering strangers, no matter how well-intentioned. When asked, more than 80 percent of patients say they wish to avoid hospitalization and intensive care during the terminal phase of an illness. People want to die at home, surrounded by family and loved ones, as comfortable as possible.
Don’t merely rely on a conversation with your doctor. The solution is to consider, document and communicate what you want; with your doctor, your family and all end of life care practitioners. There are numerous situations and questions to consider. This planning is best done well before a crisis, when you are healthy. The plan should also be dynamic, with the flexibility to change as the patient’s health evolves during the course of aging or illness.
Having these discussions will not only provide individualized care but cut down on expenses. A study found that costs were 35.7% lower for patients who had formal end of life discussions involving medical caregivers and family compared with those who had not. The importance of that is obvious when you consider that a 55-year-old couple retiring in 10 years will reach a staggering $463,949 in out of pocket healthcare costs.
The hardest part of end of life planning for many is just opening the door. It may be tough to think about dying but if you care about your spouse, your children and your grandchildren it is imperative that you prepare. Documenting your end of life wishes ensures your loved ones will be protected; protected from having to make difficult decisions in a stressful time with no guidance, protected from family infighting when siblings don’t agree on a course of action, and protected from the guilt that comes with being forced to make a decision never knowing if it was the right one. Don’t let your legacy be a family divided. Give your family the gift of peace of mind, know that you are leaving memories not problems.
Final Roadmap is committed to preparation as a source of peace of mind for individuals and those they love. We invite people to be organized and show them how. Our focus is on those decisions which can be anticipated and cause the most unnecessary pain and waste as we struggle to accept death as part of life.
About the Founders
Change is hard, and the death of a relative or close friend may be the most difficult change to bear.
How to ease the pain? Steve Byrne and Kerry Shannon, have spent years finding a better way.
Kerry is a health care consultant with 30 years experience, who brings her MA/Bioethics and Health Policy degree to Final Roadmap. Her job working in hospitals for decades allowed her to witness first hand people suffering every day because their loved one did not provide any end of life planning. Steve is a successful experienced entrepreneur who has worked with hundreds of employees in fast-moving businesses.
Both also have personal experience with losing close relatives, friends and loved ones.
All this inspired them to improve end-of-life planning. They knew there had to be a better way than simply depending on legal documents, which leave countless important questions unanswered and can cause undue stress and guilt for family members and loved ones when someone passes away.
Working with an estate attorney who also saw the effects of clients suffering over the lack of end of life planning by a loved one, Byrne and Shannon refined the concept through thousands of hours of research. The result is Final Roadmap, an effort by people who have witnessed suffering to ease the pain for others.
Final Roadmap is now an active web-based enterprise. Potential members include anyone who eventually will die.
Having worked with so many people whose parents – not to mention themselves – had done little end of life planning, Steve recognized the deep market need. Steve and Kerry believe there has to be a better way to prevent the pain, conflict and suffering related to the loss of a loved one who is unprepared. They created Final Roadmap.