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Why talking about end-of-life care matters

  • Category: Patient Care
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Karen Clarke
Why talking about end-of-life care matters

Sharing your wishes for end-of-life care can bring you closer to the people you love. It’s critically important. 90% of people say talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, but only 27% have actually done so. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, www.ihi.org has put together a guide to help people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. Some of their ideas are mentioned here, but you can download the entire booklet at www.theconversationproject.org.

To get started, ask yourself what you need to think about or do to be ready to have the conversation. Think about any particular concerns you really want to talk about, like making sure finances are in order, or making sure a family member is taken care of. You can start by writing a letter to yourself, a loved one or friend, or have a practice conversation with someone you trust.

Then ask yourself what matters most to you at the end of life, like being able to recognize loved ones or being able to say goodbye.

Once you’ve decided to have the conversation, It can be hard to break the ice. Some ways to start:

  • I need your help with something.
  • I was thinking what happened to (family or friend), and it made me realize…
  • I just answered some questions about how I want the end of my life to be. I want you to see my answers. And I’m wondering what your answers would be.

Remember that this is not the only conversation you’ll have about your wishes--every attempt is valuable, and you don’t have to cover it all at once. Having the conversation isn’t just a one-time thing. It’s the first in a series of conversations over time. It may reveal that you and your loved ones disagree. That’s okay. It’s important to simply know this and continue to talk about it now, now during a medical crisis.

Campbell County Health believes that the place to begin a conversation about people’s wishes for end-of-life care is at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit—with the people we love, before it’s too late. Together we can make these difficult conversations easier. We can make sure that our own wishes and those of our loved ones are expressed and respected by completing an Advance Directive. Visit www.cchwyo.org/ad to find an Advance Directive, as well as links to resources to educate and empower about the importance of advanced care planning.