How to Talk about Healthcare Choices Before It’s Too Late

During this time of year when you are together with loved ones, here are some ideas about talking to them about the healthcare and medical decisions that you would want to be made on your behalf as well as the decisions your family or friends want you to make on their behalf.

Every single adult needs to have Healthcare Directives

First, every single adult needs to have a Healthcare Proxy Directive, aka a Medical Power of Attorney (and, if chosen, an Advance Healthcare Instruction Directive, aka a Living Will) written, signed and in place. This includes your children, as soon as they turn 18 and this includes you. This includes your parents, too.

Without healthcare directives in place, you would not be able to access your child’s medical records, if they are unable to communicate permission. In addition, you would not be able to ensure your health care decisions will be made the way you choose. Furthermore, you would not be able to help your parents remain in control as long as possible and honor their wishes.

Talking about Healthcare Choices with your loved ones

Second, here are some tips for thinking about and talking about your loved ones: is a list of steps for getting your directives:

1.  Look inward.  Think about the people you would want to carry out those decisions and if the person you have in mind will follow your wishes. Think about what you do – or don’t – want to happen if you were unable to make your own decisions.

A resource that can help you with considering your preferences is the Starter Kit at The Conversation Project. The questions are really helpful and insightful in giving you a sense of where you stand.

Understanding your position and seeing the range of possible answers highlights that these are matters of personal preference. There is no one right answer. This resource also helps you approach the second step of the process

2.  Talk to your family.  One of the most tormenting things for families is having to make healthcare decisions for a loved one by having to guess what they would want. Talk to your family about your preferences and find out about their preferences. The Conversation Project suggests approaching it as a two-way conversation. For example, “this is what I would want if I was in an accident or was badly injured by an act of violence; what would you want?”

3.  Talk to your healthcare providers.  Let your primary physician and any other healthcare provider know about your decisions about your healthcare.  Ask any questions to alleviate any concerns you or your family may have.

4.  Execute your Healthcare directives.  Once you have decided upon your healthcare options and have chosen an agent, meet with your attorney to complete your official documents.  Have copies made for your family and your primary healthcare provider.

In conclusion, if you would like further guidance for this process, I can help you. There are many issues and details that you may not consider. I can give you additional perspective that can help clarify your own wishes and how to communicate them to your family. I look forward to helping you take care of this very important part of a plan for the care and protection of you and yours. Click on “Contact Us” above.

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