End of Life Conversations
Most people think end of life conversations are important, but few people want to have these discussions. Hesitance is understandable, but it is unfortunate - because one in four older Americans will face end of life medical questions without the capacity to decide what should happen. Decision making is hard on families that have no written guidelines or past conversation to fall back on. And it's even tougher when more than one person needs to weigh in.
If given the choice, would your loved one want CPR, a ventilator, artificial nutrition or hydration? Or would the loved one simply want to be kept comfortable? Would the answer be the same at age 95 as at age 80? Would it be different if the diagnosis was known to be terminal?
To reduce family pain and support patient choices, the Illinois HomeCare & Hospice Council encourages families to discuss end of life decisions and to consider advance directives BEFORE being faced with a medical emergency.
Advance Care Planning
Advance care planning involves learning about the types of decisions that might need to be made, considering those decisions ahead of time, and then letting others know about your preferences, often by putting them into an advance directive. An advance directive is a legal document that goes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. This could be the result of disease or severe injury-no matter how old you are. It helps others know what type of medical care you want. It also allows you to express your values and desires related to end-of-life care.