End of life conversations can be intimidating and difficult, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In changing our perspective, we realize that in fact these are conversations that result in life affirming decisions. By writing down our preferences, we control our right to choose what happens at the end. Engaging in these conversations and decisions is an act of love, as you are ensuring that your family does not have to guess what you want when you are no longer in a position to communicate. Making a plan, and engaging your family in it as you know best, will go far in reducing stress and anxiety when your loved ones have to make decisions that impact you.
So what kind of decisions?
Well, who will be your Medical Power of Attorney and/or your Statutory Durable Power of Attorney? Have you created an Advanced Directive or an Out-of-Hospital DNR? If you are not comfortable starting these conversations with your family, then you have another option – in 2016 Medicare approved payment for end of life conversations with your physician. Or, you can use the opportunity of holidays and evening dinners to organically start the conversation with your family by just asking what they envision taking place for themselves at the end of their life.
The same holds true with your wishes regarding your funeral. Your Power of Attorney expires upon death. Who will you appoint your Agent of Disposition? Do you prefer cremation or burial? These are also important discussions in which to involve your family. Moreover, you can visit your preferred Funeral Home to document and/or prepay for your chosen services.
While you are alive and healthy, you get to make these choices. Others can provide input, but it is ultimately your choice. And by proactively making end of life decisions, you are affirming your life decisions and reducing the stress and anxiety that comes when family members do not know their loved ones preferences.