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Advance Care Planning

Tips for Starting the Conversation

eldarly woman and nurseEnd-of-life care isn’t usually a top-of-mind subject. Sometimes people think that talking about what you want at end-of-life is only for when you’re sick or older. Starting an advance care planning conversation can be difficult, and many times, our loved ones feel uneasy talking about the subject.

Advance care planning has two main goals:

  1. To make sure your healthcare wishes are expressed and honored
  2. To give the gift of self-assurance to your family and loved ones when it comes to making decisions on your behalf

If you haven’t yet talked with those closest to you about what is important should you become seriously ill or be at the end of life, we encourage you to talk about it now. Navigating through chronic and serious illness, as well as through end of life and bereavement journeys is considerably easier and more meaningful when we are able to have open discussions about healthcare choices.

Here are some tips to help you start the conversation:

  • Allow your loved ones to share their own beliefs/choices/preferences and use them as a point of comparison or contrast to your own.
  • Approach the topic wanting to share your wishes before you ask someone else to share theirs.
  • Be prepared that the subject may cause an emotional reaction in the person you are speaking with.
  • Be ready to have more than one conversation – this is a process. Some family and friends will need more time to be fully receptive.
  • Begin by asking what the other person’s thoughts are about a certain reference point, such as the death of another person, a news event, a book, an article, or a TV episode, and see if this can lead into a deeper discussion.
  • Open the conversation by sharing your own thoughts, rather than putting the other person on the spot.
  • Remember to listen as much as you talk.
  • Understand that these decisions are not set in stone – you can update your wishes at any time.
  • Understand that you don’t have to be in agreement to be in this conversation.

Having this important exchange helps to provide you and your loved one with the essential information and confidence needed to make decisions in the future.

Hospice at Home has many tools and resources available to help with advance care planning as well as starting and having the conversation.

Download a free advance directive or call (269) 429-7100 for more information.

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For more information please call (800) 717-3811