No one enjoys end of life planning, whether about yourself or someone you love. The very subject presents some awkward, uncomfortable, and emotional issues. However, the consequences of not having this discussion can be much more painful.
In reality, the sooner you discuss the decisions that have to be made, the better. Families who have made end of life decisions before a crisis arises are more prepared to handle a sudden change, such as a serious illness or accident, and are less likely to feel guilty because they have no way of knowing if they have honored their loved one’s wishes.
Getting the End of Life Conversation Started
This important conversation is better when not left to chance. You will want to plan it for a time when those involved can all be present if possible. Preparing family members ahead of time will also give them the opportunity to think of any questions or issues that they would like to discuss. Then, when the time comes, everyone will be on the same page, and you’ll avoid painful conflicts.
Important Questions to Answer
End of life decisions will be based on your personal values and beliefs. While it is impossible to foresee every possible circumstance in advance, do your best to communicate your desires and values so that family members or caregivers are not left guessing should you be unable to communicate what you want. When the time comes to have the conversation with your family, there are some important general questions that will need to be answered.
- Where do you want to die? Would you rather remain at home if possible, or would you prefer to be in a hospital or other medical facility? Do you want to be surrounded by family and other loved ones, or would you rather have more privacy?
- What kind of medical treatment do you want? This would also include your preferences about life-prolonging measures.
- What are your preferences in terms of caregivers? Would you prefer a male or female caregiver? Is there anything else you want considered?
- What kind of funeral services do you want? Would you prefer an open or closed casket, cremation, would you like to donate your organs or your body to science?
- Where would you like to be buried? Do you have a burial plot? Would you like to be buried near a loved one?
- What legal documents have you prepared, or would you like to prepare? Do you have a living will? An Advance Directive? A Health Care Proxy?
- Who will be responsible for making sure that your decisions are honored in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself?
For more help in getting the conversation started, you might want to visit theconversationproject.org where you can download a free starter kit that can help you or your loved one get your thoughts together.
Having a conversation about end of life care is all about making sure that you and your loved ones can experience this precious time in the way that you choose. If you take care of these decisions ahead of time, then, when time is short, you can spend it doing what you love and being with those you love rather than scrambling to make last minute arrangements.
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