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3 Questions Can Start ‘The Conversation’

Mother and daughter discussing advance directives

We’re more likely to talk to our kids about safe sex and drugs than to talk to our parents about end-of-life care. We tell ourselves it’s too soon. Until one day we realize it’s too late.

Nearly half of Americans say they would rely on family or friends to carry out their wishes about end-of-life care, but most have never expressed those wishes. Some would want everything that medical technology has to offer. Others would opt for a gentle, pain-free death if their quality of life were seriously diminished.

There’s no right or wrong. Every person has the right to make that decision.

Experts say that the best way to get others to discuss end-of-life care is to do so yourself. He/she suggests that you begin the decision-making process by asking yourself these “what if” questions:

What if You had a Terminal Condition?

What if you had a terminal condition and there was no reasonable probability of recovery? What kind of treatments or life-saving measures would you consent to or refuse?

Woman with breathing tube

What If You Couldn't Make Your Own Decisions?

What if you weren’t able to make these decisions for yourself? Who would you want to make them for you?

Who Would Make Medical Decisions For You?

What if that loved one needed to make those decisions? Does he or she know what you want?

Time to talk about an advance directive

When You Should Have 'The Conversation'

We suggest using milestone events—wedding, anniversary, birthday, retirement, graduation, downsizing move, family holiday—to hold “what if” conversations. Keep it light but heartfelt. You may be surprised: letting your loved ones know your wishes could start a frank conversation among the generations about terminal illness, funerals, religious beliefs and other end-of-life concerns. 

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