“It always seems too soon, until it’s too late.”
Life begins and life ends. In between, we make all sorts of plans. Plans for weddings, long vacations, building a new house, selecting a college. Lots of thought goes into these plans and we take planning seriously. However, whether you have never gotten married, gone on a long vacation, built a house, or gone to college, there is one event in which you absolutely will participate and for which far too people plan — dying.
While 92 percent of people say it is important to talk about their wishes for end-of-life care, only 32 percent have ever had this conversation. It is not that people are even unwilling when 95 percent reveal they are fully wanting to have such a conversation – 53 percent report they would be relieved to have such a discussion. (The Conversation Project National Survey, 2018)
A not-for-profit organization that encourages such conversations is The Conversation Project® which says, “The place for the conversation begins at the kitchen table – not the Intensive Care Unit…”
According to their website, “The Conversation Project is a public engagement initiative whose goal is both simple and transformative: to help everyone talk about their wishes for care through the end of life so those wishes can be understood and respected.”
Having this conversation with the important people in our lives can be hard to do. It is fraught with emotion and an acknowledgment of the reality of death. Yet, it can bring families closer together. More importantly, it helps create the foundation of a care plan that is reflective of the person the conversation is about – a plan that will be available when the need arises.
To that end, The Conversation Project developed a guide for that discussion so that you can have a say in your health care both today and in the future. This Conversation Starter Guide is available for free from the organization.
The guide is focused on your preferences and feelings rather than the legal trappings of end-of-life care. It also has a focus on keeping communication open as you move forward, and situations change over time. Still important are the legal aspects of making sure your medical wishes are fulfilled through a healthcare proxy that allows someone else to speak and advocate on your behalf should you not be in a position to do so.
Such a proxy is not only for the elderly. Anyone over the age of 18 should have one and should schedule regular intervals at which it is reviewed. Many people use the “zero birthdays” (30, 40, 50, etc.) as markers for review.
Though it may seem to be a difficult topic to broach, most people are ready for end-of-life conversation. They want it for peace of mind. Make plans today to create a plan that will be ready when the family needs it and is not in a crisis situation.