EOL Discussions Part 1

Our grandmother recently died miserably and our family now wants to talk about end-of-life care when our times come, but we don’t know how to begin or what really needs to be discussed.  What should we do?

Most people don’t want to talk about ‘dying’; and certainly are uncomfortable initiating end-of-life care conversations.  Yet, once prompted, they usually respond and are grateful for it.

A good guide is the “One Slide Project” [go to engagewithgrace.org for the questions and related information].  They developed the following five questions for a family to discuss and make known their preferences:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 5, where do you fall on this continuum?    From (1) Let me die without medical intervention; to (5) Don’t give up on me no matter what, try any proven and unproven intervention possible.
  2. If there were a choice, would you prefer to die… (1) at home, or (2) in a hospital, or (3) not sure.
  3. Could a loved one correctly describe how you’d like to be treated in the case of a terminal illness?  Yes ___    No ___
  4. Is there someone you trust who you’ve appointed to advocate on your behalf when the time is near?  Yes ___   No ___
  5. Have you completed any of the following: written a living will, appointed a healthcare power of attorney, or completed an advanced directive?

In addition, families should discuss:  What each of you are willing to sacrifice just to continue living?  For example, would you still enjoy life if you didn’t know your family’s names, or you couldn’t garden or mow the lawn, or sit on the porch and watch the sun set? 

Next time, I’ll offer more information and other questions you should consider.