The statistics regarding how many people think having an end-of-life plan is important and how many actually have one aren’t good, but they also aren’t surprising. Just thinking about the end of your life or the end of a loved one’s life is hard enough; talking about it can seem nearly impossible. How do you ask an older relative what they want the end of their life to look like? How do you bring up your end-of-life wishes to your children?
Because of our desire to avoid this uncomfortable and seemingly morbid topic, no matter which side of the conversation we’d be on, people are not experiencing the end of their life the way they want. Not having a plan is not only hard on the person who is reaching the end, it is also more difficult for family members who are left guessing, and even arguing, about the best course of action.
In an effort to encourage people to talk about end-of-life wishes, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) created The Conversation Project.
The Conversation Project encourages people to talk to others about their end-of-life wishes long before they near the end of their life. And even though the name implies there is only one conversation, IHI makes it clear that many conversations should be held about this topic because it’s important, there is a lot of information to cover, and people’s wishes may change over time.
End of Life Decisions to Be Made
When people think of end-of-life wishes, many think about what hymns they would like played at their funeral, whether they want to be buried or cremated, or who will inherit their belongings. But there are many decisions to be made regarding your life before pass away.
· If you have a disease, how aggressively do you want it to be treated?
· How much do you want to know about your diagnosis? Do you want your doctor to estimate how much time you have left or would you rather not know?
· How much say do you want to have in your treatment? Do you want to make the decisions or do you want your doctors to decide?
· Where do you want to spend your final days, in a facility or at home?
· At what point do you want your care to switch from trying to cure you to making you comfortable?
· Do you want your family to strictly follow your wishes, or do you want them to do what seems best in their opinion?
· Do you want to be alone when the time comes, or do you want to be surrounded by family if possible?
· Do you know who you want to make medical decisions on your behalf if or when you become unable to do it yourself?
These are just a few of the many topics that should be addressed before it’s too late to have the conversation.
Resources to Help Get the Conversation Started
The Conversation Project offers a free starter kit that can be downloaded from their website or ordered as a printed copy. This valuable resource can help you decide the most important topics you want to cover, who you want to include in the conversation, and when and where the discussion should take place. Their website also includes personal stories and articles from people who are involved in the project or have experienced the end of a loved one’s life.
Local groups are also bringing this issue to light through seminars and expert panels. Residents of Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati can attend these local Conversation Project events in the near future:
October 5, 2017 - 6:00-7:30p.m. “Candid Conversations” Brookdale in Edgewood, KY
November 9, 2017 – 5:30-8:00p.m. “The Conversation – It’s Never Too Early Until It’s Too Late” First Baptist Church in Cold Spring, KY
reSettled Life is a proud supporter of this cause and believe strongly that these conversations are very beneficial. Amy Wright, owner and founder, recently emceed “Conversations That Matter” in Boone County and the company will have a vendor table at the “Candid Conversations” event in October.
When end-of-life wishes are known, loved ones can leave this life as they desire and allow their families to celebrate how they lived.