The Benefits of Pre-Planning for End-of-Life Care
Why You Should Have This Conversation Now
As an organization dedicated to aging services, we would be remiss if we did not stress the importance of pre-planning. Of course, it is never easy to discuss topics like death and end-of-life care, but doing so now—rather than waiting for a crisis scenario—can be the difference between having many options for your care and feeling trapped in a situation.
We will be highlighting different aspects of advance care planning to help you gain peace of mind and ensure that your final wishes are carried out just as you want them to be. Think of it as a gift to yourself—and to your family and friends.
Sometimes sharing your end-of-life wishes with your loved ones is the most difficult part. How do you begin and plan for such an intimate conversation?
Start by thinking of the Who, When, Where, and What:
- Who do you want to participate in this conversation? Perhaps this will be a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, or a close friend. Depending on the circumstances, you may ask your caregiver or doctor to participate.
- When do you want to have this conversation? If you have recently experienced the first sign of a serious health issue, you may wish to discuss your health care plans in light of that. Otherwise, you may choose to do it during the holidays when everyone is in person together.
- Where do you want to have everyone gather? You may feel most comfortable in your own home, sitting around a kitchen table, or in the living room. If the weather cooperates, you may prefer to be outside, or talk and walk. Whatever you decide, remember that you need everyone to be able to hear you clearly and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.
- What do you want to share? Before you go into the conversation, write down the things you want those you have gathered to know about your wishes for end-of-life care. Make sure you clearly answer this statement, suggested by the AARP: “What matters to me at the end of life is…”
Once you have the conversation planned, do as much preparation as you need to feel comfortable, confident, and ready to discuss your wishes. Plan to start the conversation by sharing your thoughts and feelings first. If you have any particular worries—perhaps fears about your finances or a surviving family member who will need to be cared for in your absence—make sure you clearly outline those concerns upfront.
If you are worried that the conversation may be uncomfortable or difficult, know that it might be. But that doesn’t change the value and importance of discussing your care with those who will be called on to make decisions in line with your wishes. Again, do not wait for a crisis or an emergency situation to arise: Having the conversation now means that your voice will be heard.