Comfort Circle: According to a 2012 survey by the California Healthcare Foundation, most Americans do want to make sure their families are not burdened by end-of-life decisions on their behalf, but less than half of people actually talk about dying and communicate their end-of -life wishes. In order to change this paradigm and transform our culture’s fear of death and avoidance of uncomfortable conversations, Dr. Richard Besser, the Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC News hosted a tweet chat yesterday. Experts from The Conversation Project, the AARP, Agingcare.com, The Mayo Clinic,TEDMED, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization joined the discussion (#abcDrBchat) on the ways individuals can and should communicate how they want to live at the end of their lives. You can read the chat transcript here.
Get the end-of-life conversation going anyway you can
There are so many ways to initiate the end-of-life conversation. Brandt suggests that individuals “start by deciding who you want to make your healthcare decisions [when you’re incapacitated], talk to that person, explain why.” Rather than get wrapped up in the specific treatments you would or would not want, Brandt recommends that individuals “focus on values, wishes, how you would want decisions made by whom.”
If you’re unsure how to get the discussion rolling, The Conversation Project (@convoproject) suggests asking your loved ones to tell you a story – perhaps that conversation will give you the opportunity to say “I was thinking about what happened to ___, and it made me realize …” Alternatively, you could take a more straightforward approach, and begin the discussion with “Even though I’m okay now, I’m worried that ____, and I want to be prepared.”