End Of Life Issues

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 7,405
    Anita Brikman from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization explains how to start the important conversation with friends and family about end of life issues, including what to do when the worst happens.

    Anita Brikman: It's a conversation no one wants to have; the what-if question that is hard to think about. Let alone put into words, what if there's a terrible car accident, sudden cardiac arrest or if a serious illness takes a terrible and unexpected turn; do your loved ones know what you would want if you were unable to tell the medical team at your bed side. Discussing end-of-life wishes can be tough for the person initiating the conversation and equally uncomfortable for the person on the receiving end. But having this conversation before a medical crisis hits can be a tremendous gift to your loved ones and to yourself. The conversation helps create an understanding of what matters most to you during the final phase of life. Write your thoughts down to lay the foundation for the talk youre going to have with your loved ones. If you dont know where to start it may be helpful to answer the following questions: if you were diagnosed with a life limiting illness what types of treatment would you prefer, more importantly what dont you want. Have you named someone to make decisions on your behalf if he became unable to do so, thats a document called a Health Care Proxy. How would you like your choices honored at the end of life? For example; where would you like to get care in your home, nursing facility, hospital? What kinds of aggressive treatment would you want or not want; resuscitation if your heart stops, a breathing machine, or feeding tube.

    It's important to complete documents such as an advance directive which describes your wishes and a living will which specifies which medical treatments you want or wish to deny. If you were at the end of life or become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself; the paperwork that outlines your wishes can guide and simplify agonizing choices for the people you love. Also know that laws regarding advance directives can vary depending on where you live state-by-state guidance can be found at caringinfo.

    org. In addition to talking about your own wishes; it's important to ask close family members too; what do you wants, who speaks for you, they may not be opened to having these conversations at first. People cope with end-of-life issues in different ways and the decisions they make are very personal. Starting the conversation make sure that everyone is prepared for what may happen in the future. So we can enjoy living knowing that our choices will be honored until the end.