2. TALK: Start a Conversation

The best time to talk to your loved ones about the kind of care you’d want is now. Research shows that having these conversations early improves our care at the end of life and relieves the burden on our families. Even though it may be hard at first, having the conversation about the care you’d want before you need it is better for everyone.

Here are some tips to get the conversation started:

  1. Use a conversation starter like a movie or a recent event.
  2. Discuss how someone you know was cared for at the end of his or her life.
  3. Talk about your values. What makes your life meaningful? How do you define quality of life?

Conversation starters:

  • “I know this may not be easy to talk about but if I were in an accident or were to become very sick and unable to make medical decisions for myself, I would like to share with you what is important to me so that you could make decisions for me.”

  • “I would also like to know what is important to you so that I can make the right decisions for you if you were in an accident or were to become seriously ill and unable to speak for yourself.” 

  • “Recently, there have been stories in the news about people who have become very sick and unable to speak for themselves. Their families have not agreed on how to care for them. What would you want us to do if we were in that situation?”

  • “I know some people are afraid to talk about these kinds of things. If this scares you, maybe you can take some time to think about it and we can talk about it later?” 

  • “There is a form called an advance directive which allows people to name a decision maker and choose the kind of care they would want if they were to become seriously ill. Would you be interested in knowing more about advance directives?”