“This is not something just for older people” – Frenzela Credle’s story

When 80-year-old Frenzela Credle first attended a Speak(easy) Howard workshop at St John Baptist Church, she had already taken some steps to prepare for her future care. She had a MOLST form from her doctor and had begun the advance care planning process. But the workshop, led by The Conversation Project, helped reinforce the importance of making care choices early, having conversations about those choices and making sure they are clear and respected.

“I already had some of the documents,” Credle said, “But since I went to the workshop I have gone back over my finances and things that I wasn’t sure where they stood. And I did those things because they were mentioned in the booklet we used during the workshop.”

While these workshops helped Credle think through her own care plans, her unique experience also underscores the truth that these plans are timely and important for everyone. At one workshop, she was paired with another church member to work through the Conversation Starter Kit booklet. Despite meeting each other for the first time, they spent much of the workshop talking through the materials and helping one another think through their own care wishes.

To her surprise, Frenzela learned the following week that the gentleman had passed away suddenly. He and his wife had just returned from a cruise celebrating his birthday, and his passing was a shock to all.

In a similarly shocking experience last year, Credle’s goddaughter, who was a teacher, didn’t show up to school one Thursday. Her goddaughter was usually very punctual, so the principal sent another staff member to her home to check on her. Upon their arrival, they discovered that Credle’s goddaughter passed away. She had just recently turned 40.

With the loss of her goddaughter and this recent experience, Credle is convinced now more than ever that advance care planning is something everyone needs to think about. The workshop not only helped her clarify her wishes if she were to suddenly need critical care, but also helped her more clearly express her wishes to her family. She feels confident that her wishes are fully understood and will be respected.

“This is important for everyone to do,” she said. “Not just for older people. It can happen to anyone at any time and it’s something people need to think about.”

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