Conversations to Prepare for End of Life

 When it’s time for advance care planning and making difficult healthcare decisions, already having discussed end-of-life medical care (or a Living Will) with your loved one and knowing their wishes ahead of time will be critical information to help you and your family make those tough choices when the time comes. It will also allow you to communicate those wishes effectively to their doctor or healthcare provider. And it all starts with a simple conversation.

Because this can be such an uncomfortable (yet critical) topic to discuss, you may want to do research and take steps to prepare yourself for starting this conversation in an appropriate setting. Once you prepare for having this conversation, asking the right questions comes next. 

Here are a few things you can ask your loved one to initiate the conversation about their wishes for end-of-life care:

  1. Get it in writing, including their signature if possible. Before you ask questions, there are a couple reasons why it’s important to have a Living Will template (or even just a notepad) to write down your loved ones wishes for end-of-life care. First, you don’t want to have any misunderstanding of what they said, or forget any details once the time comes for medical care in the case that they are unable to speak for themselves. Second, you’ll need documentation that allows your family and the healthcare provider to see signed proof of what your loved one has wished for. This will help you and your family make those difficult choices and have peace of mind that it was what your loved one wanted.
  2. Discover their general wishes for end-of-life. General wishes can be anything that is important to them other than medical and healthcare wishes. Who do they want by their side for their last breath? Do they want a chaplain or pastor to visit them? Do they want to be cremated? Who do they want involved or not involved in their medical care decisions?
  3. Discover their medical wishes for end-of-life. This regards their medical care and quality of life wishes. Who will be their appointed healthcare proxy / power of attorney? Do they want themselves and/or their family to make medical decisions, or do they trust the doctor to make those decisions if it has not been predetermined in the Living Will? Where and how do they want to spend their last days? Would they like to have hospice care? Do they want to be resuscitated or go on life support if the option arises? Do they want to stay informed about their current condition or life expectancy?
  4. Discover what personal things need to be addressed before their last days. Do they have a Will set in place? What will happen with their home or assets once they pass? Do they have a burial site reserved? Are there any financial or legal matters that need to be taken care of?
  5. Have more than one conversation. You don’t have to get all the answers at once. Allow this difficult topic to occur naturally and in a comfortable, appropriate setting. But don’t wait to have these conversations before it’s too late! Talk to other close family members about the topic and do your research ahead of time to help guide your conversations more effectively. Living Wills can change over time, and they can be created long before you feel your loved one is getting close to their last days. This is an important document to have created and maintained in the instance that your loved one acquires a sudden illness or injury at any point in time as they age.

If your loved one wishes for quality-of-life care more than prolonged life for their last days, tell your doctor about Accolade Hospice.

Accolade Hospice has a team of professionals prepared to help with any advance care planning including understanding and initiating a variety of legal documents: Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will or DNR. Accolade’s goal is to ensure and promote quality of life while honoring wishes, beliefs and values. This is accomplished through careful attention to the individual’s unique needs including pain management, medical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.

Accolade Hospice services (vary by location) include:

  • Skilled Nursing
  • Home Care Aide
  • Pain & Symptom Management
  • Diabetic Care
  • Cardiac Care
  • Wound Care Management
  • Post-Surgical Care
  • Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care
  • Caregiver Support
  • Advance Directive Planning
  • Bereavement Counseling

With Accolade, you are not alone.

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