Discussing Death and Dying, Planning for the Future
In life, we all have so many responsibilities to plan for and think about, be it family or friends, work or home related. We tend not to have time or desire to plan for the other end of the spectrum—death. No one wants to discuss dying, it’s uncomfortable, pushes the envelope and makes us realize that we are not invincible despite what we tell ourselves (and our loved ones). But talking about it is important, because, well frankly- it’s inevitable. This weekend wraps up the outreach for National Health Care Decisions Day, a friendly reminder that we should all think about our personal preferences with regard to end-of-life.
It’s a common misconception that conversations surrounding death and dying should only take place when you are older, which is simply not the case. Unfortunately, illness can strike at any age and an accident can leave your family wishing they had the answers to “what would he/she want us to do?”
Take a moment to think about what you would want at end-of-life. It is a sensitive topic, but one that shouldn’t be ignored. Ask yourself a few difficult questions such as the ones below as a starting point.
- How long would you want to receive medical care? Would you want to live as long as possible no matter what types of interventions are necessary, or opt for quality of life over quantity?
- What are your thoughts on palliative care and hospice care, do you know the difference between the two- do your loved ones?
- When the time comes, where do you want to be? At home or in a nursing care facility? Alone or surrounded by your loved ones?
Some of these questions can be difficult to think about, but are important to help you make your decisions. When you feel comfortable with your choices, talk about them with your loved ones and put them in writing. Identify your health care proxy, someone that you trust to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. “Know that talking about your end of life preference may be challenging, it can take time and more than a single conversation,” explains Judith Johnson, RN, Director of Case Management at Sturdy Memorial Hospital. “Start now. Now is a time to put things in place so that, should you ever face a serious illness, you and your loved ones can navigate your disease process with comfort, compassion, and dignity, ensuring that your treatment preferences will be honored.”