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The Nancy Snyderman Interview (Page 2 of 3)

The Nancy Snyderman Interview

Nancy Snyderman: Before you even get to the doctor— and this is where American families, I think, have a real difficult time, you need to have the hard discussions with everyone that is healthy. I knew what my parents wanted at their funerals and what they wanted with regard to ICU care years ago. So when my father became very ill this last fall, I invited him to be part of the decision-making; but I knew absolutely when to put on the brakes. Too often there is a crisis. Everybody flies in and everybody goes, “Oh, no, Mom told me blah, blah,” or “That is not what she told me.” And then there is a row. So those conversations have to be had early. And then I think it makes the crisis easier to handle. It is not that it is going to be a cakewalk. But at least you will know the intention of the person you are taking care of. And for me, that has given me great solace as I have made really important decisions. The other thing is, we talk so much about medicine, but we forget the legality issues. Sign those HIPPA papers so the doctors can talk to somebody in the family and share information. Figure out who is going to be the executor and get the legal stuff done so that somebody can make sure the trains run on time. You do not want that left to a stranger.

Gary Barg: Tell me about the organization you founded called CarePlanners. It seems to dovetail with what we talk about, which is not walking into this situation where you are in charge, but you have the least amount of information.

Nancy Snyderman: CarePlanners started because of a very unlikely friendship. Alan Blaustein and I met. He was healthy, I was healthy. He then became very ill with a very rare cancer. And I became sort of his sounding board and guided him through various treatments. We forged not only a deeper friendship, but a partnership looking at what works and what does not in the healthcare system. It became obvious to both of us that we think care planning is all about planning for the future. So whether you are not sure where to go for help, or are confused by a medical bill or not sure if you have appropriate insurance coverage, there are actually a gazillion different problems that go beyond education, social status and economic status. The average American is perplexed by it all. And the more reform there is, the more complicated things seem to be. So we created a new company that is designed to be really one-stop shopping—Web and an 800 number where at any given time, you can talk to a nurse or a social worker who can guide you through the crisis that you are having. And ultimately, we want to change the national conversation so people are talking not about the crises, but how to plan for their futures.

Gary Barg: It is like anything else. If you plan for it, you hope it does not happen that way, but at least the roadmap is set.

Nancy Snyderman: The best gift you can give your children is to take as good care of yourself as you possibly can so that you can remain as independent as long as you can. And the second gift you can give your kids is letting them know what your desires are. In my family, my father asked that he not be put in a nursing home. And he put away enough money—not a lot, but enough that he knew we would be able to afford to have someone come into his house. And that is what we have done. We will be celebrating his 89th birthday this month. We have had a couple close calls, but my promise to him was that he would get to die at home in his own bed. If that means there is not a 9-1-1 call placed one night, then so be it. That is his decision and he gets to own it. I will have comfort in knowing that as sad as I am—I have to say good-bye to my dad someday, I will be following his wishes.


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