The Talk About End-of-Life Wishes

It's a difficult conversation, but having it now can heighten comfort and lessen heartache later.
Thetalkaboutend Of Lifewishes

Most of us don't like to think about the time when our lives will end, and death is an awkward topic to bring up with a loved one. But it is important to have a conversation in which your relative expresses his or her wishes for the end, just as it is to have that talk about your own preferences.

Experts from Barnabas Health Hospice suggest you start by expressing how much you respect your loved one’s desire to have his or her wishes followed at the end. If that feels uncomfortable, bring up an example of a family member who did not leave instructions about his or her dying, or even an example from the news about a celebrity’s death that has caused confusion and legal battles.

Encourage your loved one to answer the following questions about his or her preferences for the end of life:

  • Do I want my life to end at home or in a medical facility?
  • Whom do I want with me when that time comes?
  • Do I want life-sustaining treatment even when progress toward a cure is no longer possible? And who will make that decision if I am incapacitated? n What kind of funeral service do I want?

Putting these wishes in writing in an advance directive will help give everyone involved clarity and peace of mind. An advance directive is a legal document consisting of two parts: a living will, which explicitly describes a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, particularly whether or not they wish to be given lifeprolonging treatment when death is imminent; and a health care power of attorney, appointing someone to act on their behalf and make decisions regarding their medical treatment if they are unable to do so. You can obtain a copy of an advanced directive at your physician’s office or the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services website at state.nj.us.

A Caring Approach in a Difficult Time

In partnership with VNA Health Group, Barnabas Health Hospice provides comfort and guidance to patients and their families when it has been determined that a serious illness will not improve with continued treatment.

We offer compassion and support to both the patient and family— empowering decision making, enhancing quality of life, providing comfort and, when the journey has ended, helping those who remain to cope with the loss and move forward.

For more information, please visit vnahg.org/barnabas or call 800.200.2345.

To learn more about hospice care, visit vnahg.org/barnabas or call 800.200.2345.

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